AS THE number of Covid cases continue to spike on the first year of the first Covid-caused community quarantine, Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan on Monday said the Department of Health to empower local governments so that they can level-up in addressing the challenges of controlling the spread of the disease.
“Local governments know what’s happening on the ground, but they need the support. We’ve been saying this for the longest time: DOH has to enable LGUs rather than keep the power to themselves. DOH has to enable and provide and designate and deputize and give powers to the locals so that they can really confront this challenge,” he said in a media interview.
Pangilinan said that aside from quarantining, local governments must be empowered to do mass testing, tracing, isolation, and vaccination.
“Habang hindi nagkakaroon ng herd immunity, kailangan pa rin ng testing and I am told we are testing less now than we were six months ago,” he added.
On Monday, the country recorded 5,404 new coronavirus cases, as its cumulative count reached 626,893.
The first lockdown effective March 15, 2020 covered the National Capital Region and the town of Cainta in Rizal until April 14, 2020. On that first lockdown day, the number of confirmed cases was 29, for a total of 140 cases.
Pangilinan stressed that local governments need national government support to intensify their mass testing, contact-tracing, isolation, and vaccination activities to control the spread of the virus.
“I think local governments have seen in the past that they are better equipped than the national government in addressing immediately and quickly the challenges in their localities. So, if they believe that a quarantine is crucial, then we should be able to consider that seriously, but we have to give them the necessary tools and the necessary resources,” he said.
“Mayor Marcy of Marikina has raised the issues of kulang na kulang ‘yung kanyang vaccination, wala pa ngang 20 percent ang kanyang front-liners na na-va-vaccinate,” he added.
From the beginning, since 2020, Pangilinan has sought government focus on the control and management of the pandemic, especially given the lives and billions of pesos lost due to its mismanagement.
In December, Pangilinan called for Senate hearings on the government vaccine rollout. He said these measures should be consistently implemented while waiting for the general population to be vaccinated.