Leni to frontliners: We are grateful for your sacrifice

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    AS THE country prepares to mark a full year in lockdown, Vice President Leni Robredo yesterday lauded doctors, nurses and other health workers serving in the frontline of the government’s fight to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Robredo lamented the loss of hundreds of health frontliners who perished in the line of duty even as she reminded the public that the battle to control the coronavirus infection is far from over.

    “One year into the lockdown, we’ve weathered so much: thousands of deaths and cases, millions of jobs and chances lost, many moments of confusion, uncertainty, and fears. We owe so much to our valiant health frontliners, who are closest to the dangers of COVID-19 every day,” Robredo said.

    President Rodrigo Duterte declared Luzon under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) effective March 17, 2020, two days after placing Metro Manila under community quarantine, restricting all modes of public travel and activities that promote contact among the population.

    Almost a year after the country was put on lockdown, the numbers continue to be high.

    Yesterday, the Department of Health reported 5,404 new cases, the highest daily tally since August last year, and the second time in three days that the number of infections breached the 5,000 mark.

    Last Saturday, the DOH reported 5,000 new cases and 4,899 last Sunday. On August 14 last year, 6,216 new cases were recorded.

    Despite the grim statistics, the Vice President praised the courage and commitment of the community of health care professionals to carry on providing services in hospitals, testing centers, and at community levels despite dangers to themselves and their loved ones.

    Likewise, she gave thanks to local government leaders for stepping up to take on the challenges of delivering relief and social services under constraints of limited resources.

    Robredo noted the support given to medical workers as well as innovation of technology-based approaches to improve contact tracing and information dissemination.

    “It is inspiring that many of our leaders and fellow workers in LGUs stepped up to address many needs despite limitations. Their ingenuity and compassion are glimmers of hope that leadership is possible amid the crisis we face,” the Vice President said.

    She also commended military and PNP officers who worked in cooperation with civic organizations and other government agencies.

    “We also thank our soldiers and police officers who stay true to their calling, and whose help has been invaluable in delivering assistance to communities, and all Filipino workers who provide us essential services despite the dangers,” she added.

    Robredo was in Iloilo yesterday to deliver equipment and relief goods donated by various private organizations and businesses to beneficiary communities.

    She also visited the Community Learning Hub in barangay Bagcay, Tigbauan, Iloilo, which is an initiative of the Office of the Vice President to span the gap in the education of public school students created by the loss of face-to-face teaching.

    Volunteer college students donate their time to teaching public school students using facilities provided in the learning hub.

    “We have 210 children school children registered in the learning hub. The teachers and parents were thankful for the assistance as many of the pupils are having difficulty using the learning modules on their own,” Robredo said.

    Senate President Vicente Sotto III agreed with the Vice President that a lot remains to be done by the government one year after the President declared a lockdown due to COVID-19.

    “Our country has been in various levels of community quarantine for a year now, one of the longest, if not the longest, lockdown in the world. Our government has done what is necessary to respond to this national health emergency but a lot remains to be done. Cases are again at an uptick. Our hospitals are again swamped with patients. Our medical heroes are again up on their feet 24 hours, 7 days, and the lines of sick people are still getting longer. Our situation has again become worrisome,” Sotto said.

    He reminded the public to always observe the minimum health protocols when going out of their homes, or better yet “stay at home and protect ourselves from catching the virus.”

    Sotto also said the people should not miss the chance to get inoculated. “When the vaccines are available for distribution, don’t pass on the opportunity, get vaccinated. Let us be pro-active in addressing the pandemic. You need to protect yourselves. And of course, let us not forget the basics – wear face masks and shields when in public places, observe social distancing and personal hygiene.”

    “Together we stand in the fight against Covid, but if we fail, recovery will be an uphill climb. We will see through this health crisis if we stay disciplined, cooperative and continue to work hand in hand,” he added.

    Sen. Nancy Binay hit what she said was the apparent disregard of health protocols by a number of government officials, which she said gives the incorrect impression that everything is okay now even as cases continue to increase.

    Binay said national leaders send the wrong signals to the public each time they appear on television trivializing the spike in the number of cases while assuring that things are slowly getting back to normal since vaccines are already available.

    “What’s ironic is that after a year since the lockdown, we are still here… We have not moved forward. It seems that nothing has changed – same problems, same issues, same recommendations, such as hard lockdown, curfew, and liquor ban. The DOH (continues to) downplay the spike in COVID cases and the IATF’s recommendation to open tourist spots, resorts, movie houses, etc. actually create an impression that we are back to normal which is not the case,” Binay said.

    She said government leaders should set the right example. “How can we expect people to consciously follow health protocols when even our national and local government officials do not conscientiously follow minimum health protocols? Even if we impose curfew hours, or liquor ban if we see people in government freely travelling to beaches and resorts, and organizing public gatherings as if everything is back to normal, the people will surely relax,” she said.

    Senate president pro-tempore Ralph Recto urged the national government to come up with a 100-day summer offensive plan and a pre-SONA to-do list versus the pandemic now that the lockdown is a year old.

    “We remember the dead and recognize the heroes, but the best way to honor them is for government to arm for a final push against the virus that will end the stalemate and turn the tide in our favor. Malacañang should use the anniversary to unveil a 100-day plan for a summer offensive from April to June, with clear targets in terms of the number of people vaccinated, the number of vaccines that will arrive, and where they will be sent,” Recto said. – With Raymond Africa