The MECQ is Duterte’s admission that the administration is losing the battle against COVID-19. Clear strategy and real work must be done this time. It is not lack of resources or the waiting for vaccine. The surge of cases is because of the administration’s negligence and wrong approach to the health crisis that has worsened our situation under the pandemic. We will not take any more excuses!
Akbayan Party stands in solidarity with the medical community in calling for a "timeout" for the healthcare system. Government must stop fooling itself that its current response has been successful; it is high time it recalibrate its roadmap and reassess its strategies.
It is clear that we are losing the fight against COVID-19 due to government's neglect of public health-centered approaches. Five months into the pandemic and we still lack decent infrastructure for contact tracing, mass testing, and safe workspaces and transportation. Healthcare worker recruitment has slowed down due to a lack of proper compensation and safety equipment. Hospitals in major urban centers are reaching maximum capacity, and use of equipment in hospital care is a matter of choosing who lives and dies. DOH manipulated data to make it appear we gained 38,000 recoveries when these were just reclassified asymptomatic cases. While nurses are making ends meet with a P13,000 a month salary, officials like SolGen Calida live lavishly with a monthly P1.4 million.
Now it must not waste the community quarantine as it did months ago. It must finally do work this time. We call on the government to drastically recalibrate its militaristic approach and finally heed the call of those on the ground. We can no longer allow the military to lead the IATF, nor Duque lead the DOH. We urge government to let capable health professionals take the helm of the DOH and the whole government's response, and relegate the National Task Force to proper implementation of their policies.
We call on government to actually start taking the rights and welfare of healthcare workers seriously. We demand higher salaries and just benefits for healthcare workers, and financial assistance for their families. They should be given free PPEs, shorter work hours, and proper transportation systems. We must rechannel unfiled budgets from police and Presidential intellgence funds towards expanding public hospital capacities today instead of 2021. We must start the employment of medical and paramedic staff to provide treatment for mild cases in isolation facilities.
Government should assist establishments, especially, MSMEs that are in dire financial situations, so they can implement periodic testing and physical distancing. Social amelioration funds or wage subsidies should be released so that those who are ill are assured of basic needs for their families even as they are admitted to quarantine facilities. LGUs need to solicit reports from workers to augment the very limited inspection activities of the DOLE to prevent workplaces from becoming transmission hubs.
Since the start of the lockdown, Akbayan has presented action points for proper government response. We reiterate these calls, now more than ever. We call for a safe and gradual reopening grounded on risk assessments and the ability to implement mitigation strategies. We demand transparency on the utilization of the COVID-19 pandemic response budget. We demand granular epidemiologic data for effective decision making. We urge government to heed the call of the frontliners to maintain continued health services across different needs and cases.
Let us not be fooled into complacency by government complaining its hands are tied. It is high time it heed the people's call for long overdue long-term healthcare and economic action plans.