MANILA - Sen. Nancy Binay on Tuesday urged Health Secretary Francisco Duque to "do some soul-searching" as she sought a comprehensive plan from national government in arresting the spread of COVID-19 in the country.
Binay said she shared the sentiment of Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who recently renewed his call for Duque's resignation. She noted it was "very frustrating" that President Rodrigo Duterte has yet to replace the secretary.
The senator cited the chamber's first hearing into the pandemic in February, where it was discovered that authorities have yet to trace contacts of the Philippines' first COVID-19 case who was a tourist from virus origin Wuhan.
In another hearing, senators found that the country has extremely limited testing capabilities, she added.
"At the end of the day it’s the call of the President whether to let go of Secretary Duque but siguro (maybe) it’s high-time for the Secretary to do some soul-searching if he can really do the job. Baka kailangan sa kanya na manggaling (Maybe it needs to come from him)," Binay told ANC.
The country needs to strengthen its contact tracing and information drive during Metro Manila's 2-week lockdown beginning Tuesday, Binay said.
"We have a 2-week window where we can correct things and hopefully sana 'yung IATF can constantly be in touch with our healthcare workers para tuloy-tuloy ang dialogue nila on how we can find a solution to this problem," she said.
(We have a 2-week window where we can correct things and hopefully the IATF can constantly be in touch with our healthcare workers so their dialogue on how we can find a solution to this problem continues.)
"I agree with our medical practitioners. Kami sa Senado we've been asking for a plan, I've been asking for a plan. Wala tayong communication plan on how we can teach our people what to do."
(We at the Senate have been asking for a plan, I've been asking for a plan. We don't have a communication plan on how we can teach our people what to do.)
The senator urged authorities to conduct information campaign not just online as some people do not have internet access.
They can also distribute free face masks and set up handwashing stations in public areas such as markets, she added.
Binay, meantime, urged the public to focus "all our resources and energy in fighting the virus."
"We all need to do our part, it’s not just government. We need to learn how to live with this virus. Sa tingin ko matagal pa 'yang vaccine (I think it will be a while until there's a vaccine) and for me that’s just not the solution to this problem," she said.
"Ang government siya yung magsasabi ano dapat ang dapat nating gawin, at the moment dun ko nakikita na may malaking pagkukulang ang ating pamahalaan."
(Government should be the one that tell us what to do and at the moment I think that's where it is lacking.)
The health department earlier said it would focus its COVID-19 response in communities to arrest the spread of virus transmission during Metro Manila's 2-week modified lockdown.
The Philippines as of Monday reported 106,330 cases of COVID-19, with 65,821 recoveries and 2,104 deaths.