A lawmaker said the House of Representatives should act decisively on policies that encourage public confidence in the health and disaster response frameworks of the country amid the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) threat.
In an aide-memoire addressed to Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, Albay Rep. Joey Salceda said the national situation calls for a stimulus of public confidence—or an infusion of public confidence, consumer confidence, and business confidence–that the government is institutionally, materially, and politically equipped to deal with socio-economic crises.
“The Philippine economy can weather nCoV. What it cannot weather is continued uncertainty… What pervades the business community and the public at large is a sense of uncertainty, and to some extent, helplessness,” Salceda said.
“The House must be prepared to support the national government in the immediate, commit to its timetable for critical reforms in the medium term, and study more institutional and structural changes to improve national resilience in the long term,” he added.
Salceda, who chairs the House Committee on Ways and Means, stressed the need for the urgent passage of critically-needed hospital expansion bills, and the prompt delivery of projects under the Health Facilities Enhancement Program.
“Medical facilities in the country no longer adequately respond to the country’s health needs. The House Committee on Ways and Means is committed to creating necessary fiscal space, provided that space will be used to build up hospital capacities, and undertake the long-overdue catchup in modernization and capacity expansion,” he said.
He also noted that the public health emergency component of the Comprehensive Framework for Health Emergencies under House Bill No. 6096 must be immediately approved, noting that it will ensure a clear, coordinated, and all-of-government, all-of-nation approach to dealing with sudden-onset health emergencies.
“As the nCov persists, interagency issues of unity in command will begin to emerge. These issues will do little to assuage the public that the government is prepared to address this public health emergency,” he said.
Salceda recently filed a bill appropriating the sum of PHP2.06 billion as a supplemental budget to address the risks of the 2019-nCoV to public health.
The proposed amount shall be used for the following: PHP2.025 billion for the personal protective equipment for health care workers; PHP4.522 million for the estimated costs for 40 repatriates from China; PHP10 million worth of surgical masks for health care workers and patients under investigation; and PHP20 million for the additional man-hour service such as sick leave, hazard pay, overtime pay. (PNA)