By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Tuesday blasted the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for doing the same thing over and over, but expecting a different result in the fight against the spread of coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19).
In an interview, Drilon said the Philippines should learn from other countries like Vietnam and Taiwan had controlled the spread of the virus by doing four critical reforms and contained the disease.
“We are doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. We keep on repeating the same thing over and over again. We keep on doing prolonged lockdowns and hope that it will have a different result,” he said.
Drilon said it would not have a different result unless we couple it with critical reforms and observance of basic rules that have already been shown effective in other countries.
“What are these? Testing, tracking, treating and teaching or 4Ts. We are failing in the four areas,” Drilon said.
The minority leader said that there is no extensive testing compared to other countries since we are conducting 17 test out of every case.
“ In Vietnam, they are testing 4,200 out of every COVID-19 case. In Laos, it is over 2,000. In China, it’s 1,853. This is critical so we can go to the next step: tracking,” he explained.
“When we see people affected, we can track. Again, we fail here. There is no tracking system in place. That was also what the Healthcare Professional Alliance said, there is simply no tracking,” Drilon lamented.
Then, the treatment he added. “The vaccines are insufficient.”
“Then, the fourth T is teaching. The people’s behavior will be influenced by the credibility of the policies and the announcements. Here, we have announcements that change on a regular basis,” he further noted.
Drilon said that the credibility of those who are making announcements and the examples set also matter.
“When you have “mananita” and when people see this, you lose your credibility when you say social distance,” he said.
Drilon said that the Philippines should be testing at least 130,000 Filipinos a day.
But according to Health Undersecretary. Vergeire, we have only reached 50,000 a day. Some have criticized that testing in the Philippines has become a business. In other countries, testing is for free.
“ That’s what I said. From the World Bank findings, we are conducting 17 tests for every COVID-19 case. In Vietnam it is 4,275 tests. You can imagine the disparity. The disparity is also further confirmed by what you said that we needed 130,000 a day and we are only testing 50,000,” he explained.
“Maybe Vice President Robredo saw this gap and came up with her own limited way of helping and has this “Swab Cab”, a mobile testing center. You said that testing has become a business. Business will come in where they see an opportunity. Because the government is not addressing this vital need of testing, the private sector comes in,” he added.
Drilon further said that we should have a deliberate plan and effort to do mass testing, but until today, there is none.
Q: For us to be able to conduct more testing, what do you suggest?
“ I do not see any. They’re saying we are conducting 50,000, that is grossly insufficient. You will see the gross inadequacy and because we are grossly inadequate, we cannot track. If we cannot track, we cannot vaccinate, not only because we do now know who is infected but because there is no vaccine,” he added.
Furthermore, Drilon said that the country should learned from Vietnam and Taiwan, which immediately closed its border and had contained the virus but Health Secretary Francisco Duque refused since it will displease China.
“ On the other end of the scale, why is Vietnam able to control it? Why is Taiwan able to control it? That is because, from the very start, they are able to do the correct process. The original sin is when we did not close our borders to Chinese tourists. While Taiwan, in January or February 2020, they closed the flights right away and Vietnam did the same. But we did not do so, because, as what Sec. Duque said it might displease China. I am sorry to say this but pleasing China resulted in 13,000 deaths, pleasing China resulted in 700,000 cases in our jurisdiction,” he ended. (AI/MTVN)