MANILA – At least two senatorial candidates of the ruling party Partido Demokratiko Pilipino – Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) have expressed reservations about the proposed “Alert Level 0” in the country.
Senatorial aspirants John Castriciones and Rey Langit said the de-escalation of alert level status should not be done in haste, stressing that the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) still prevails.
Langit, a veteran broadcaster, said the proposed shift to Alert Level 0 status can be done, once more Filipinos get inoculated against Covid-19.
“Kahit po bumababa na ang mga kaso ng Covid, delikado pa rin po dahil hindi pa tapos ang pandemya at maaaring may bagong variant na sumulpot (Even if the Covid-19 cases continue to drop, it is still dangerous because there is still a pandemic and a threat of new variants),” Langit said in a statement. “Kung nais po nating maideklara ang Alert Level 0, dapat lang po na mas marami pa sa ating mga kababayan ang mabakunahan (If we want to shift to Alert Level 0, it’s a prerogative that many of our citizens are already vaccinated).”
As of March 16, a total of 139,454,246 Covid-19 doses have been administered nationwide.
Around 64,838,213 Filipinos are now fully-vaccinated, National Task Force Against Covid-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said in a meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte at Malacañan Palace on Tuesday night.
Galvez added that the vaccination for the pediatric sector also continues to gain momentum, noting that nearly 11 million individuals aged five to 17 have already received the first vaccine shot.
Despite the government’s efforts to ramp up the Covid-19 vaccination drive, Langit lamented that many Filipinos are still unvaccinated.
“Nakakalungkot po na marami po sa ating kababayan ang hindi pa bakunado dahil maraming nasasayang na bakuna. Nakakapanghinayang ang mga bakuna na mag-eexpire lang (I am saddened that many of our fellow citizens are still unvaccinated, this has led to the spoilage of the vaccines. It is regrettable that we just let unused vaccines expire),” Galvez said.
Meanwhile, Castriciones said the country’s fight against Covid-19 would only be a success if a total of 90 million Filipinos get vaccinated against the dreaded disease.
He also reminded the public to continue observing the minimum public health standards despite the continued drop in Covid-19 infections.
“Even if you get the booster, you still need to wear face mask and follow the health protocol so that we will be protected against the infection,” Castriciones said. “Marami sa ating mga kababayan na bakunado na ay nagiging complacent na dahil sa pagbaba ng mga kaso ng Covid-19, kinakailangan pa rin na sundin ang mga health protocols para sa kaligtasan ng lahat (Many of us who have been vaccinated are now becoming complacent, because of the lower number of Covid-19 cases being reported each day. But we still need to strictly follow the health protocols for us to survive)” he added.
As of February 2022, the Philippines ranked third in the vaccination administration among the 10 Southeast nations, 11th out of 47 Asian countries, and 18th out of 205 countries worldwide.
Castriciones and Langit called for closer cooperation between the local and national governments, as well as for an intensified information campaign, to encourage more people to get inoculated against the coronavirus.
Langit also told vaccine-hesitant Filipinos to trust the medical professionals.
“Marami po sa ating mga health worker ang kumakayod para himukin tayo na magpabakuna. Maniwala po tayo sa kanila, maniwala tayo sa eksperto, maniwala tayo sa siyensya (Many of our health workers are striving hard just to encourage us to be vaccinated. We should believe in them. We should trust the experts and the science behind the vaccines),” Langit said.
On Wednesday, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the further easing of Covid-19 restrictions would only be done, once all parts of the country are placed under the most lenient Alert Level 1.
Vergeire also clarified that Alert Level 0 is not an “official term” yet.
Metro Manila and 47 other areas have been placed under Alert Level 1 for the second half of March. (PNA)