‘Dapat libre ang mass testing’, Pangilinan says amid upsurge of Covid cases

March 30, 2021

WITH the ongoing upsurge of Covid-19 cases, Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan calls for free mass testing anew, together with accelerated contact tracing and treatment, to better manage the spread of the disease.

“Mas maayos at granular ang isolation at mas confined ang shutdown ng mga negosyo kung alam natin kung sino ang may Covid at wala. Kung sinuman ang may sakit, dapat maalagaan at magamot (Isolation would be more logical and granular, and business shutdowns would be more confined if we know who has Covid or not. Those who test positive must be taken care of and treated),” he said.

“Ito ang unang-una sa mga solusyon: Dapat libre ang testing (This is first in multi-step solutions: Testing must be free),” he added.

Pangilinan pointed out that the 1-billion-peso testing fund under the 2021 General Appropriations Act can be used for free mass testing in Metro Manila and in other areas with high Covid positivity numbers.

“Sa ating 2021 national budget, merong 1 billion pesos na nakalaan para sa pagbili ng RT-PCR cartridges (In our 2021 national budget, 1 billion pesos has been allocated for the procurement of RT-PCR cartridges),” he said. RT-PCR refers to reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction, a laboratory technique considered the gold standard in detecting Covid.

At the same time, Pangilinan suggests that the Senate reconvene as the Committee of the Whole to know how the country is faring in the battle against Covid-19.

“Kasing kritikal ng bilis ng pagbabakuna ang mabilis na testing, contact tracing, treatment and isolation (As critical as the speed needed in our vaccination program is the need to accelerate our testing, contact tracing and isolation),” he said.

In December 2020, Pangilinan filed a resolution asking the Senate to convene as the Committee of the Whole in January to tackle the government’s vaccination program.

As Metro Manila and several nearby provinces are on lockdown again, Pangilinan said the public, through the Senate, should be apprised on where the country stands in dealing with the pandemic.

He said that among the questions that government must answer are: As against the target, how many have been tested, traced, isolated and treated? How much has been spent and how much more money are still available for these solutions? What are the obstacles to doing these processes effectively and efficiently?

Pangilinan said the Senate hearing will also be an assessment of the ongoing vaccine rollout.

On March 9, 2020, before the Senate came up with Bayanihan 1 to respond to the still developing crisis at the time, Pangilinan called for free Covid checkup and testing.

“Hindi na dapat makabawas pa sa budget, lalo na ng ordinaryong mamamayan, ang Covid test. Makakahikayat sa ating mga kababayan ang magpasuri kung alam nila na ito ay libre (The Covid test should not be eat up the family budget. More will be encouraged to be checked if it’s free),” he said then.

He had also called for decentralized testing and emergency cash assistance for those who will need to take a medical leave due to Covid.

The Philippines has been recording all-time high numbers in new Covid-19 cases, with the Department of Health reporting a record 10,016 new infections on Monday, March 29.

Pangilinan, nanawagan ng libreng ‘mass testing’ sa kabila ng pagtaas ng kaso ng Covid

DAHIL sa patuloy na pagtaas ng bilang ng mga kaso ng Covid-19, muling nanawagan si Senador Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan ng libreng mass testing, kasama ang mas pinaigting na contact tracing at treatment, para mapigilan ang pagkalat ng sakit.

“Mas maayos at granular ang isolation at mas confined ang shutdown ng mga negosyo kung alam natin kung sino ang may Covid at wala. Kung sinuman ang may sakit, dapat maalagaan at magamot (Isolation would be more logical and granular, and business shutdowns would be more confined if we know who has Covid or not. Those who test positive must be taken care of and treated),” aniya.

“Ito ang unang-una sa mga solusyon: Dapat libre ang testing (This is first in multi-step solutions: Testing must be free),” dagdag niya.

Binigyang-diin ni Pangilinan na pwedeng magamit ang 1-bilyong-pisong pondo para sa testing sa ilalim ng 2021 General Appropriations Act para sa libreng mass testing sa Metro Manila at iba pang mga lugar na may mataas na bilang ng Covid positive.

“Sa ating 2021 national budget, merong 1 billion pesos na nakalaan para sa pagbili ng RT-PCR cartridges (In our 2021 national budget, 1 billion pesos has been allocated for the procurement of RT-PCR cartridges),” aniya. Ang RT-PCR ay tumutukoy sa reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction, isang laboratory technique na itinuturing na “gold standard” o pinakamabisang pamantayan sa pag-detect ng Covid.

Kasabay nito, iminungkahi ni Pangilinan na muling i-convene ang Senate Committee of the Whole para malaman kung ano ang kalagayan ng bansa sa laban kontra Covid-19.

“Kasing kritikal ng bilis ng pagbabakuna ang mabilis na testing, contact tracing, treatment and isolation (As critical as the speed needed in our vaccination program is the need to accelerate our testing, contact tracing and isolation),” aniya.

Noong December 2020, inihain ni Pangilinan ang isang resolusyong hinihiling sa Senado na i-convene ang Committee of the Whole noong Enero para matalakay ang vaccination program ng pamahalaan.

Habang muling isinailalim sa lockdown ang Metro Manila at ilang karatig-probinsya, sinabi ni Pangilinan na dapat ipaalam sa publiko, sa tulong ng Senado, ang katayuan ng bansa sa usapin ng pandemya.

Aniya, ilan sa mga tanong na dapat sagutin ng gobyerno ay: Kung ihahambing sa target, ilan na ang na-test, na-trace, na-isolate, at na-treat? Magkano na ang ginastos at magkano pa ang natitirang pondo na maaari pang mailaan para sa mga solusyong ito? Ano ang mga hadlang para maisakatuparan sa mabisa at mahusay na paraan ang mga prosesong ito?

Ani Pangilinan, magsisilbing assessment ng vaccine rollout din ang Senate hearing.

On March 9, 2020, before the Senate came up with Bayanihan 1 to respond to the still developing crisis at the time, Pangilinan called for free Covid checkup and testing. “Hindi na dapat makabawas pa sa budget, lalo na ng ordinaryong mamamayan, ang Covid test. Makakahikayat sa ating mga kababayan ang magpasuri kung alam nila na ito ay libre (The Covid test should not be eat up the family budget. More will be encouraged to be checked if it’s free),” he said then.

Noong March 9, 2020, bago ipinasa ng Senado ang Bayanihan 1 para tumugon sa krisis noong mga panahong iyon, nanawagan na si Pangilinan ng libreng Covid checkup at testing.

“Hindi na dapat makabawas pa sa budget, lalo na ng ordinaryong mamamayan, ang Covid test. Makakahikayat sa ating mga kababayan ang magpasuri kung alam nila na ito ay libre (The Covid test should not be eat up the family budget. More will be encouraged to be checked if it’s free),” sabi niya noon.

Nanawagan din siya ng decentralized testing at emergency cash assistance para sa mga nangangailangan ng medical leave dahil sa Covid.

Marami pa rin ang nagkakasakit, at ang pinakamataas na iniulat ng Department of Health ay 10,016 na bagong infection noong Lunes, March 29.