Lacson supports DOF bid to hire more contact tracers amid COVID-19 crisis

Robie de Guzman   •   May 12, 2020   •   486

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson on Tuesday expressed support for the proposal of the Department of Finance (DOF) to prioritize the hiring of contact tracers to boost the country’s efforts to curb the transmission of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“Contact tracing is a key first step in addressing the COVID-19 threat. It should provide the baseline data or reference on who to test. Without it, our mass testing will be like shooting at the moon or running around like headless chickens,” Lacson said in a statement.

In a briefing aired earlier in the day, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III proposed to ramp up the government’s contact tracing efforts to boost efforts to stop the COVID-19 transmission and provide jobs to stimulate the economy through spending.

“Kung maipapatupad ang mungkahing ito nang maayos, maaari nating lutasin agad ang dalawang problema,” Lacson said.

The senator added that the proposal’s materialization will depend on the Department of Health.

“Ang bagay na ito ay nasa kamay na ng liderato ng Department of Health: Maiimplementa kaya nila ang mungkahi ni Secretary Dominguez?” he asked.

As of May 12, the Philippines has recorded 11,350 confirmed coronavirus cases, with 2,106 recovered patients and 751 fatalities.

Facility-based isolation for asymptomatic, mild COVID-19 cases now mandatory

Marje Pelayo   •   September 25, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) is now requiring facility-based isolation for confirmed asymptomatic and mild coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases through IATF Resolution 74.

The new policy however, exempts patients who are considered vulnerable or having comorbidities and their home meets the conditions specified in the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Joint Administrative Order 2020-0001. 

Likewise, another exception is when the Ligtas COVID-19 Centers within the region are fully occupied and the local government unit does not have sufficient isolation facilities.

Iloilo City placed under MECQ from Sept. 25 until Oct. 9

Marje Pelayo   •   September 25, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Iloilo City has been placed under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) effective September 25 until October 9 due to the increasing number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the city.

According to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque the new measure is based on the issued Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) Resolution 74 which also requires facility-based isolation for confirmed asymptomatic and mild COVID-19 cases.

However, the resolution exempts patients who are considered vulnerable or having comorbidities as confirmed by the local health officer.

Another exception would be when the Ligtas COVID-19 Centers within the region are fully occupied and the local government unit does not have sufficient isolation facilities.

On Tuesday (September 22), 33 employees of the Iloilo City Hall tested positive for COVID-19 prompting the three-day temporary closure of the establishment beginning Wednesday (September 23) as declared by Mayor Jerry Treñas in Executive Order No. 215-A.

Prior to that, 13 barangays in the city were placed under total lockdown due to the increase in community transmission of COVID-19.

Lacson on US bill seeking suspension of security aid to PH: ‘Not only our loss but theirs as well’

Robie de Guzman   •   September 24, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson on Thursday expressed his belief that the proposal to suspend the security assistance provided by the United States to the Philippines “will not only be our loss but theirs as well.”

Lacson issued the statement after a bill seeking such move was introduced to US Congress.

While he recognized the authority of members of US Congress to file a legislative measure “under any circumstance,” the senator said that a major part of the security assistance being extended to the Philippines is used to combat terrorism.

Lacson, who chairs the Philippine Senate committee on national defense, stressed that terrorism knows no borders and timing, and that the US lawmakers “know that for a fact.”

Pennsylvania Representative Susan Wild earlier pushed the proposed Philippine Human Rights Act before the US Congress which seeks to block security funding to the Philippines until the government has made “certain reforms to the military and police forces.”

“Across the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal regime is using the pretext of a so-called “Anti-Terrorism Law” to ramp up efforts targeting labor organizers, workers, and political opponents… In response to these abuses, I introduced the Philippine Human Rights Act to block U.S. funding for police or military assistance to the Philippines outlining a series of basic criteria which would have to be met in order to resume such funding,” she said.

Lacson said that as part of the legislative process, the bill will have “to go through the mill of first reading and referral, committee hearings and floor debates.”

“If adopted and approved, the said bill — H.R. 8313 — will not only be our loss but theirs as well, considering that a major part of the security assistance being extended to the Philippines is used to combat terrorism, which knows no borders and timing. And they know that for a fact,” he added.

Lacson further said that in deliberating on the bill, US lawmakers may have to consider and resolve as a legal issue the existing Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Manila and Washington.

The VFA came into force in 1999. It outlines the guidelines about the treatment of their troops when visiting the US or the Philippines. It includes provisions on visa and passport policies for US troops and the American government’s right to retain jurisdiction over its personnel, among others.

In February, the Philippines moved to terminate the accord but was later suspended for six months in June. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

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