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Sen. Nancy Binay rips DILG and PCOO for pushing Cha-Cha; Harry Roque admits the government has no plans for mass testing

“May krisis, ‘di ba? Bakit Cha-Cha ang inuuna?”

Senator Nancy Binay blasted the DILG and the PCOO for pushing for charter change (Cha Cha) amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Sayang po yung milyun-milyong budget ng DILG at PCOO na ginagasta sa federalism roadshows na sana po ay sagot sa kumakalam na sikmura. Ang priority dapat ng gobyerno ngayon ay solusyon sa problema, di pirma sa cha-cha.”

On Monday, Binay pointed out how both agencies continue to use government funds for federalism shows which could have been allocated for struggling families who haven’t received any cash aids yet.

“Ang priority dapat ng gobyerno ngayon ay solusyon sa problema, ‘di pirma sa Cha-Cha,”

She wants the PCOO to ramp up their efforts instead of focusing on getting signatures for the Cha-Cha.

“On the part of the PCOO, we expect a massive multi-platform information campaign for the public to know the ‘Dos and Donts,’ as we transition from ECQ to the ‘new normal.’”

“There should have been aggressive effort to put into infomercials and readable printed formats even the most little detail regarding safety and health protocols so the public would know and be prepared to live and embrace the new norm.

“May krisis, ‘di ba? Bakit Cha-Cha ang inuuna? Matagal na po nating sinasabi na we are at a crucial point where communication is vital in confronting a state of public health emergency,” she said.

“Di po ito ang panahon para pag-usapan ang pederalismo. Ang mga nangangailangan po ng ayuda’t trabaho ngayon ay mga tao mismo,” she added.

Binay also said that mass testing is still a problem in the country, as only a little over 200,000 have been tested.

Unfortunately, the government has no solution to this problem.

“As much as possible, ini-increase natin ang capacity ng testing kaya nga we’re aiming na aabot tayo sa 30,000 (a day), pero in terms sa mass testing na ginagawa ng Wuhan na all 11 million (residents), wala pa pong ganyang programa at iniiwan natin ‘yan sa pribadong sektor,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a Malacañang press briefing.

The Philippines relies on a “progressive” COVID-19 testing program” where only people with severe flu-like symptoms, the elderly, those with pre-existing health conditions, pregnant women with mild symptoms, and healthcare workers with respiratory symptoms would get tested.

Project ARK or Antibody Rapid Test Kits has been created by companies for barangays and workers who are looking to get back to work. Project ARK has raised over a million rapid test kits.

“We cannot hide from the virus forever. We have guidelines on how to go back to work… For asymptomatics, government will not test muna kasi nga wala pang kakayahan, kulang pa nag PCR (tests) kaya tumutulong kami,” Project ARK medical team chief Dra. Minguita Padilla said.

The private sector has also procured additional reverse transmission-polymerase chain reaction or RT-PCR kits and machines for government-run hospitals to increase capacity.

DOLE’s latest advisory requires all employers, contractors, and subcontractors to “shoulder the cost of COVID-19 prevention and control measures” such as testing, disinfection, proper training of workers, and protective gear for their workers.

“We know that businesses have suffered so much, but for the sake of our economy we encourage them to dig deeper into their vast reserve of charity and benevolence so that their workers and the communities can continue to further weather this crisis that we are all facing and fighting together,” Secretary Silvestre Bello III said in a statement.

Another DOLE notice calls for business owners to allow their employees to work from home. Agreements between the employer and employee with regards to wage-related benefits should also be present for six months to avoid any conflict.

Roque acknowledged the fact that the government failed to expand the capacity of testing laboratories to run 8,000 tests a day by April 30, but now the goal is 30,000 daily by the end of May.

The 30 testing labs in the country can only run 14,500 samples a day. In addition, four mega swabbing centers and quarantine facilities have been established to decongest health facilities.

Roque previously said the government aims to run at least 2.2 million rapid tests and 900,000 PCR tests, and at least 1 percent of the country’s population need to be tested.

Written by JO-EST B. TAN

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