De Lima: Gaps in contact tracing doom Covid efforts


DETAINED Senator Leila de Lima has deplored gaps in the government’s ongoing contact tracing efforts to effectively contain the Covid-19 contagion that has been running since March 2020.

De Lima recalled in a statement Wednesday that when the government’s contact tracing czar, Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, admitted in May last year that contact tracing remains the weakest link in Philippines’s Covid-19 response, “it should have been enough of a wakeup call to get this government’s  priorities straight.”

Magalong has since resigned from that post.  However, she added, “it is now nearly seventeen (17) full months since the first lockdown and past several surges of infection, yet this  fact, along with many other medical data from neighboring countries, has  been disregarded to the point of it now seeming like an outright dereliction of public duty.”

The opposition lawmaker said it appears that the medical aspects of the campaign against Covid have been abandoned. “Tila ba isinuko na ang labang medikal at inabandona na ang taumbayan habang salitan ang sagutan, epalan at pamumulitika [It seems the medical effort has been surrendered while political skirmishes and grandstanding go on].”

De Lima rued that “with the Delta variant now poised to infect thousands of Filipinos, it is now beyond a shadow of a doubt that the government remains to be ill-informed, ill-prepared and ill-advised. “Hindi maalam kaya’t hindi maagap, hindi handa kaya’t hindi makausad [Ignorant, hence, incompetent, not ready, and therefore unable to advance].”

She asked: “Kailangan pa bang i-memorize ‘yan? Tatlong salita lamang yan: Test. Trace. Treat. Pero hanggang ngayon eh puro lockdown saka curfew pa rin ang alam niyo. Bakit?  May oras lang ba ng paglabas ang Covid [Do you need to memorize that? Test. Trace. Treat. But until now all you know is lockdown and curfew. Why? Does the Covid virus come out only at certain hours]?”

The  senator recalled that “this question used to be amusing until everyone realized that we truly have an inutile President whose delayed and deficient actions are the textbook opposite of the meaning of “leadership”, as they still cannot keep up with the medical facts. And so, we are stuck with policies that are nothing short of confusing, ineffective and downright fatal to public health and harmful to the economic and social interests of our people.

“This and the fact that billions of Bayanihan 1 and 2 funds were unspent and failed to reach our people in the form of ayuda and other social services raises one question: “where do you plan to spend the funds that were borrowed?” she added. 

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