Senatorial aspirant Emmanuel Piñol emphasized that while the world is battling with the COVID-19 pandemic, the leaders must look at the valuable lessons it has brought to the country.
The former Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Secretary shared his thoughts during a virtual press briefing on Thursday (Nov. 4) along with Presidential Candidate Panfilo Lacson, Vice-Presidential Candidate Vicente Sotto III, and fellow Senate aspirant Dr. Minguita Padilla.
“While the government is addressing the problems resulting from the pandemic, our leaders should also look at the very important lessons learned,” he said.
Piñol cited that there was a study funded by the United Nations Development Fund on the request of MinDA that looked into the effect of the pandemic on the lives and outlook of the people.
“There were three things people were really concerned about – food, jobs, and health security,” he emphasized.
Piñol pointed out that in the early months of the pandemic, the movement of people and goods was disrupted because of the quarantine protocols.
“It was a scary moment for our people because a big volume of our food supplies is either imported or sourced from the different islands of the country,” he said.
He urged the leaders to find means in producing enough food for the people as he said that the country cannot depend on importation.
“The countries from which we source our food may opt not to sell when there would be a worldwide shortage,” he added.
As to the job, Piñol cited that COVID-19 produced a crippling effect not only in the country but also on the world economy which led to the closure of workplaces, rendering thousands of jobless Filipinos, especially the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs).
“The government must provide support to local industries, like reviving the steel industry in Mindanao, supporting small companies and cooperatives in starting industries to provide jobs for our people and build an inclusive economy. While we indeed benefit from the remittances of our OFWs, the pandemic taught us that they too could lose their jobs and once the remittances dwindle, it could affect the national economy,” he recommended.
For health security, he underscored that victims of the COVID-19 pandemic found themselves having to pay hundreds of thousands in excess billings despite the fact that there is already universal health coverage for our people,
“There were also reports of hospitals taking advantage of the crisis by declaring every respiratory-related disease as COVID-19 to be able to collect more,” Piñol stressed.
He recommended that there is a need to seriously review the health care and insurance system in the country, and plug the holes which allow corruption and ensure that when the next pandemic would arise, the people do not have to worry about their hospital expenses.
“All of these lessons should be the basis of future policies and legislations that our officials would introduce. A pandemic similar to COVID-19, I said, could hit the country or the world again and it is important that instead of being preoccupied with the temporary issues of vaccination and quarantine protocols, our leaders should look at the lessons learned,” Piñol said. (PR)