Sat. Jan 29th, 2022

The daily tallies of new cases are rapidly rising and we do not want this development to snatch away the many gains we had over the past two years since we had been battling the pandemic.

Despite the ongoing challenges and threats caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, we continue to welcome 2022 with the hope that we can heal and recover as one resilient Filipino nation. In order to win the war against an unseen enemy, we need discipline and cooperation.

Vaccination and continued vigilance are crucial if we want to return to normalcy. Our efforts in the past years have already brought us closer to our goal if not for the emergence of new threats such as the Omicron variant.

Over the past week, we have seen a consistent rise in the number of new Covid cases compared to only a few hundred per day in December.

Just yesterday, we registered 28,707 new cases. Whether this is because of the more transmissible Omicron variant, the holiday surge or combination of many other factors has yet to be seen.

But the fact remains that the daily tallies of new cases are rapidly rising and we do not want this development to snatch away the many gains we had over the past two years since we had been battling the pandemic.

Scientists and health professionals have already provided us with the best tool to beat the virus with the development of several vaccines. The vaccine works and can protect us from the worst health effects of the virus. We have many documented cases of those who received their vaccines experiencing only milder symptoms and preventing serious consequences to their health.

Around 112.75 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines have already been administered in the country, as of 7 January. Some 52.11 million individuals have been fully vaccinated while 57.55 million have already received their first dose. In addition to this, around 3.08 million individuals have already obtained their booster shots. We have also received a total of 210.78 million doses. But there remains a portion of our population who have not gotten the jab. If they will be infected, they will be at a higher risk against the virus.

This is the main reason why we continue to ask for cooperation and understanding. As we course through this difficult time, we must all stand together. Let us continue to fight this pandemic by encouraging others to get vaccinated while still following health protocols, including wearing masks, washing of hands, observing social distancing and staying at home as much as possible.

On the part of government, we remain steadfast in our vaccination rollout and information efforts as we want more Filipinos to be protected from Covid-19. With the help of our local government units, we vow to speed up the process of vaccination so that we may be able to curb the sudden increase of positive cases in the country.

Considering our current situation, it behooves us to become ready for future possible health events such as pandemics. I believe it is about time that we establish a Philippine Center for Disease Control, through Senate Bill 2158 that I filed, which will monitor, track, respond and mitigate the outbreaks of infectious diseases and other public health emergencies. We should also establish the Virology Science and Technology Institute of the Philippines that will help us develop life-saving vaccines so we will not be overly dependent on companies and institutions abroad.

As Chair of the Committee on Health, I have likewise dedicated my efforts to the passage of legislative measures and the allocation of needed resources that will help improve our Covid-19 response and assist in our recovery efforts, while ensuring that the country will be more prepared for other health emergencies in the future.

Moreover, I continue to pursue initiatives to improve further our healthcare system, establish new hospitals, and increase bed capacity and capabilities in existing healthcare facilities. We had a hard time dealing with this health emergency during its early stages because we have a shortage of beds in the hospital and our equipment are insufficient. Correcting this deficiency is, therefore, a top priority for me as a legislator and for this administration.

Aside from this, we also continue to provide aid to our fellow Filipinos — from those who have been affected by the pandemic to those who have been affected by calamities and other unfortunate incidents. As President Rodrigo Duterte said, we will make sure no Filipino is left behind towards recovery.

Last week, we assisted 94 families who lost their homes and livelihood due to fire incidents, such as those in Barangay 584, Zone 57, District 4, Sampaloc and Barangay 649, Zone 68, District 5, Baseco Compound in Manila City; Lupang Pangako, Payatas and Sitio Pingkian 2, Pasong Tamo in Quezon City; Ibayo-Tipas in Taguig City; Barangay Putatan in Muntinlupa City and Barangay Barangka in Marikina City. We also assisted fire victims consisting of 48 families in Cagayan de Oro City and Gingoog City, Misamis Oriental as well as another 46 families in Bacoor City, Cavite.

We also helped 2,212 individuals consisting of solo parents, senior citizens, PWD, and LGBT members from Barangay 31-D, Mandug, Sasa, Buhangin, Cabantian, Panacan and Tibungco in Davao City. We also extended aid to 1,001 solo parents in Cabuyao City, Laguna; 220 displaced employees in Nasugbu, Batangas; 2,300 indigent families in Lucban, Quezon; and 1,400 market vendors, TODA members and indigent families in Olongapo City and Subic, Zambales.

As we continue our efforts to overcome the present pandemic, may I also remind Filipinos to remain calm but still vigilant, and refrain from spreading fake news. I urge everyone to obtain their news and information from credible sources, especially with regards to the pandemic and our pandemic response. We are dealing with so many problems already that spreading these unverified rumors will only cause needless anxiety and panic on our people.

The threat of Covid-19, with its many variants, is very real and we can only overcome these challenges if we remain disciplined, follow health protocols, cooperate with the government and become part of the solution. Together, let us all be catalysts of unity and cooperation in order to fully recover and heal as one resilient nation.

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