Presidential candidate Panfilo ‘Ping’ Lacson said Tuesday Filipinos should not be complacent even as coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases at present do not spike at alarming levels compared to previous months unlike in other countries.
Addressing supporters gathered at the Mutual Homes Park in Muntinlupa City, Lacson reiterated his preparedness to lead the Philippines’ transition from a state of pandemic to endemic in terms of dealing with the COVID-19 situation, once he receives his executive mandate in the upcoming May 9 elections.
“While we are prepared to transition from pandemic to endemic—meaning, parang ordinaryong flu na lamang ang trato—huwag nating kalimutan anytime baka pasukin na naman tayo at magkaroon ng panibagong surge,” Lacson said in his opening remarks prior to their town hall forum.
[While we are prepared to transition from a pandemic to endemic state—meaning, that’s when we start to treat it (COVID-19) just like an ordinary flu—we must not forget that a new variant may enter our borders anytime and cause another surge.]
Based on the latest assessment of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), Metro Manila as well as 88 other areas will remain under Alert Level 1 or a ‘low-risk’ status for COVID-19 within the next 15 days.
Lacson noted that other countries continue to be on the watch for emerging COVID-19 threats such as in some cities in China, where cases of the Omicron variant have been rising, as well as in the United States, where the so-called ‘stealth omicron’ subvariant is reportedly spreading.
Under his presidency, Lacson said he and his vice-presidential running mate Senate President Vicente ‘Tito’ Sotto III would continue their proactive approach in managing crisis situations such as the COVID-19 pandemic like what they did in their capacity as legislators during the 18th Congress.
Lacson gave Sotto credit anew for taking the initiative to pass Republic Act No. 11469, also known as the ‘Bayanihan to Heal as One Act’ (Bayanihan I), which provided social amelioration packages to citizens who lost their jobs and businesses that shut down at the height of the global health crisis in 2020.
“Sa gitna ng pandemya, simula ‘nung Pebrero, Marso—buong 2020—hindi niya (Sotto) po inalintana ‘yung banta ng COVID-19. Kami pong dalawa, kami lang ‘yung namumukod-tangi, always present physically (sa Senado…) Never absent, never late,” Lacson said.
[In the middle of the pandemic, beginning February, March—the entire 2020—he (Sotto) was not bothered by the threat of COVID-19. The two of us, we distinguish ourselves for always being physically present (in the Senate…) We were never absent, never late.]
The presidential aspirant has previously mentioned that under his leadership, he will prepare the Philippines against the threat of future pandemics by investing heavily on the research and development sector and toning down on reckless politicking.
Lacson underscored the importance of keeping social welfare data updated at all times to ensure that the intended beneficiaries of financial assistance from the government would receive their share and the chaotic rollout of state-funded aid packages or ‘ayuda’ would be avoided.
“Maski anong ganda ng intensyon ng mambabatas katulad namin, may limitasyon po ang kaya naming gawin. Ang implementation nanggagaling sa executive department. ‘Yon nga ang naging problema,” the veteran statesman reminded.
[No matter how good the intentions of lawmakers like us are, there will always be limitations to what we can do. The implementation (of laws) always comes from the executive department (and sometimes) therein lies the problem.]
Earlier, Lacson also vowed to pursue the establishment of the Virology Science and Technology Institute of the Philippines, which would focus on studying new viruses and developing vaccines and other potential cures to overcome them.
Meanwhile, in terms of addressing the economic impact of the pandemic on our industries, Lacson said he will prioritize the recovery of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, which, according to statistics, are the ones that suffered the most at the height of the COVID-19 crisis.