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Containing Delta variant threat before it spreads

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The health and well-being of all Filipinos will always be the primary consideration in all government actions throughout the pandemic. As a result, the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases has agreed to put the National Capital Region under heightened general community quarantine until 5 August 2021, and enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) from 6 to 20 August.

To avoid the further spread of the extremely contagious Delta variant of Covid-19, IATF members, local chief executives and our panel of experts from diverse disciplines have reached this decision after their thorough assessments of data and discussion. Rest assured that our primary goal here is to save lives!

As we proceed with these community quarantine classifications, I urge the government to ensure that we have enough funds to assist those who would be most impacted by the reintroduction of ECQ in the NCR. Not only are we fighting Covid-19, we must also continue to address poverty and hunger.

Remember that many people, especially the daily wage workers and the poorest of the poor, have families to feed. Now that we are imposing stricter measures, we must be ready to help them overcome the challenges that come with it.

As chair of the Senate Committee on Health, I respect the decision of the experts to strictly apply all measures necessary to prevent the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant. Our focus here is to “extinguish the fire” before it becomes out of control, so that we will not waste the gains of the past year and risk reverting “back to zero.” This requires sacrifice from everyone in order for us to protect and save more lives.

Aside from the reimposition of ECQ and border controls, I am also appealing for intensified efforts related to contact tracing and genome sequencing, the augmentation of health care facilities, and the hastening of the country’s vaccine rollout.

As we enter August, we have already received more than 33 million doses of vaccines. More than 20 million doses have been administered. Almost 12 million Filipinos have received their first dose, while more than eight million Filipinos have been fully vaccinated. While we impose stricter protocols, let us also intensify our vaccination efforts in order to ensure protection especially for our most vulnerable citizens.

Meanwhile, as the government continues to protect our health interests in the face of Covid-19, be assured that I, together with my office, will continue to assist Filipinos who are experiencing hardships as a result of the continuing pandemic and other crises.

My team and I continue to assist communities affected by fires around the country from 27 July to 1 August. A family each in Valenzuela City and in Makati City received help, as did 27 families in Pasay City, 99 households in Iligan City, and 14 affected individuals in Kapatagan, Lanao del Norte.

We also provided assistance to victims of natural disasters in order to help them build back better. My team reached out to 122 typhoon-affected households on Cebu’s Bantayan Island; 59 families in Oton, Iloilo; 221 families in Iloilo City; and 800 typhoon victims in Allen, Northern Samar.

My team likewise provided help to the most disadvantaged sectors. In Caloocan City, we assisted 1,020 low-income and indigent families, while in Pasig City, we assisted 336 transport workers. We also helped 7,286 indigents in Malasiqui and Pozorrubio, both in Pangasinan. In Northern Samar province, we assisted 1,024 indigents in San Roque, Rosario and Bobon.

Recognizing the contributions of economic frontliners, we also continue to assist transport workers, farmers, merchants, fishermen and other essential workers, such as 3,597 individuals from the municipalities of Baroy, Lala, Tubod and Salvador in Lanao del Norte. In the town of Kapatagan, we also assisted 1,208 former drug users who have undergone rehabilitation.

In the municipalities of Kasibu, Bambang, Dupax del Norte, Kayapa, Aritao, Ambaguio, Solano, Bagabag, Villaverde and Diadi in Nueva Vizcaya, we also provided support to a total of 1,727 microentrepreneurs. In Bulakan, Bulacan, we also helped 1,300 displaced workers, individuals with medical needs, and indigents.

We assisted farmers, fishermen and small-scale business owners in Camiguin, with 228 coming from Guinsiliban and 155 from Mahinog. We helped almost 3,000 indigents, local transport workers, market vendors and indigenous people in Malitbog, Damulog and Don Carlos in Bukidnon; as well as 256 vendors in Clarin, Misamis Occidental.

Our teams supplied meals, food packs, masks, face shields and vitamins during these events. Bicycles, shoes and computer tablets were also provided to some of the recipients. We carried out these distributions in small batches while adhering to the government’s health rules and regulations. National agencies also separately extended assistance to qualified beneficiaries based on their existing programs for communities in crisis situations.

Toward the end of the week, on 31 July, I personally witnessed the launching of the 131st and 132nd Malasakit Centers in Democrito O. Plaza Memorial Hospital in Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur, and Adela Serra Ty Memorial Medical Center in Tandag City, Surigao del Sur. We have also provided assistance to the indigent patients and frontliners in the said hospitals on top of what the Department of Social Welfare and Development provided them.

Amid all these efforts, I want to express my gratitude to our kababayans for their continued faith and trust in the work that I do for the country and our people. In a recent poll conducted by Publicus Asia last month, I came out first among 23 Senate members in terms of “overall trustworthiness.” I take this as an inspiration to do more as I remain focused on our collective goal of overcoming the challenges we are facing.

Whatever happens in the next months, I leave my fate to God, the Duterte family, and the Filipino people — to whom I owe this privilege of being of service to my fellow Filipinos, for without them, I will not be where I am right now.

To my fellow Filipinos, let us work together to provide a more comfortable life for all. Rest assured, we are prepared to overcome these challenges as long as we cooperate and remain united toward our collective goal of protecting the lives of our people!

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