Leni: “We can beat pandemic like Asia Pacific neighbors”

VICE President Leni Robredo believes the Philippines is capable of beating the coronavirus pandemic like its Asia Pacific neighbors – if the government acts fast and anchors its response on data.

The Vice President cited the study made by independent medical journal The Lancet, which ranked the Philippines 66th out of 91 countries in terms of COVID-19 suppression.

In contrast, the same study showed 19 countries have “successfully suppressed” the virus, 10 of which are in Asia Pacific. They are Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, China, Myanmar, Malaysia, New Zealand, Uganda, Togo, Pakistan, Latvia, Luxembourg, Uruguay, South Korea, Finland, Cuba, and Rwanda.

Robredo said it is not too late for the Philippines to beat COVID-19, too.

“Nagtagumpay laban sa virus ang labingsiyam na bansa, kabilang na ang 10 sa ating mga kapitbahay, kahit wala pang gamot, at kahit wala pang bakuna. Humaharap ako sa inyo ngayon dahil naniniwala akong kaya din natin ito,” Robredo said. (These 19 nations gained success against the virus, including 10 of our neighbors, even without a cure, and even without a vaccine. I speak to you today because of my faith that we can achieve this as well.)

She said the Philippines can emulate the best practices of its Asia Pacific neighbors.

“Malinaw sa akin kung ano ang nagtatahi sa kanila: Naniwala sila sa datos, sa agham, at sa mga eksperto; naging bukas sila sa kaalaman at mga kaisipan, saan man ito magmula; nagplano sila nang maigi; mabilis at coordinated ang kilos ng gobyerno nila,” the Vice President said. (The similarities that weave them together are clear to us: They believe in data, science, and experts; they are open to knowledge and ideas wherever these may come from; they planned properly; their governments acted quickly and in a coordinated manner.) “Naging tapat sila sa pakikitungo sa kanilang mamamayan. Isinantabi nila ang politika. Nakipagtulungan sila,” she added. (They were honest and straightforward in dealing with their citizens. They set aside politics. They cooperated and helped each other.)

She then outlined her suggestion to make this possible – from strengthening job matching platforms to help Filipinos look for new sources of income, to setting up the needed systems so that even residents from remote areas would be able to gain access to the COVId-19 vaccine once available. Planning ahead

Robredo suggested 5 ways to help address the pandemic:

1) Set clear and specific goals like targeting to achieve a positivity rate below 5% and a virus reproduction rate not exceeding 1 by end-October

2) Provide additional support to local government units (LGUs)

3) Provide more assistance to micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) badly hit by the pandemic

4) Help jobless Filipinos look for new opportunities through platforms that match job vacancies with their skill sets

5) Prepare for a massive deployment of the COVID-19 vaccine once available.