National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID 19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. on Wednesday advised Vice President Leni Robredo to observe the situation in the communities before criticizing the national government’s COVID-19 response.

IMG 0359 1024x683 - Galvez to VP Leni: Before criticizing COVID-19 efforts, see what’s happening on the ground
Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr., chief implementer of the National Task Force (NTF) on COVID-19 (NTF AGAINST COVID-19 / MANILA BULLETIN)

Galvez issued the statement after Robredo disputed the remarks of President Duterte that the country could not win the fight against COVID-19 pandemic without a vaccine.

“Ang sinasabi ko lang po kay madam VP, bago po sana kayo mag-comment ay tignan niyo po ang nangyayari sa baba. Ang lahat ng LGUs at health care workers ay nagpapakahirap para masugpo ang COVID-19. (What I want to say to madame VP is that before she comments, she should look at the situation on the ground. All the local government units and health care workers are toiling to curb COVID-19),” Galvez said in a virtual briefing in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City.

Prior to this, Robredo cited a study released on September 14 by The Lancet, a foreign medical journal, which ranked 91 countries based on their efficiency in responding to the pandemic.

The study measured the rate of transmission, mortality rate, the number of tests conducted, and the new confirmed daily cases of 91 countries for the month of August.

The Philippines landed on 66th place, with the Top 10 dominated by Southeast Asian neighbors such as Thailand (second), Laos (third), Cambodia (fourth), Vietnam (fifth), Myanmar (seventh), and Malaysia (eight).

A total of 19 countries were able to “suppress” the COVID-19, the study added.

“Ipinapakita sa table na ito na possible naman ma-suppress kahit wala pang vaccine. If 19 countries were able to do it, no reason why we can’t. Kaya natin ito. (The table shows that it is possible to suppress [COVID-19] even without a vaccine. If 19 countries were able to do it, no reason why we can’t. We can do this),” said Robredo, who is actively involved in community-based efforts to fight COVID-19 such as building of dormitories for medical frontliners, temporary isolation facilities, and provision of medical supplies to areas affected by the imposed lockdown.

But Galvez stressed that the COVID-19 problem “is very dynamic” and many variables should be considered before it can be considered that COVID-19 is successfully defeated.

“Ang inaano ni VP Leni ay madali kung ang variables ay madaling i-control. Marami pong variables, unang-una discipline at ang behavior ng tao. (What VP Leni has been saying will be easy to achieve if the variables are also easy to control. We have so many variables to consider, first is the discipline and behavior of the people),” he said.

The chief implementer said the country’s fight against COVID-19 is made more difficult by the violators of the minimum health standard. 

“Marami po talagang nag-va-violate. Kahit sinong country ang magkaroon ng ganito ay mahihirapan lalo na populated ang areas, hindi tayo makapag-observe ng social distancing (We have so many violators. Whatever country that has this kind of dillema will find it difficult to eliminate COVID-19, especially in populated areas where social distancing is not observed),” he noted.

Galvez also cited the deficiencies in the number of nurses and doctors in the country and the “neglected” health care system, which he said contributed to the inability of the country to effectively respond to the pandemic.

“We have to accept that hindi po talaga tayo nakapag-prepare (that we failed to prepare). Our system is not prepared for this,” he admitted.

Nonetheless, Galvez said the national government is doing its best to address the health crisis using all the available means and with the help of the local government units. 

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