SENATOR Christopher “Bong” Go said that three things are needed to fully implement a stronger mask-wearing policy nationwide amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic: “Bayanihan, suporta sa kabuhayan ng mga kababayan, at malasakit sa mga mahihirap at pinaka-nangangailangan.”
In line with these, Go appealed to the Executive department to ensure that collaboration among public and private sectors is promoted to implement the stricter mask-wearing policy, necessary support is given for local industries producing masks, and that government should be able to provide masks to the poor and vulnerable sectors who cannot afford to buy their own.
“Magbayanihan tayo, suportahan natin ang kabuhayan ng ating mga kababayan, at magmalasakit tayo sa mga pinaka-nangangailangan. Ito ang tatlong mga bagay na dapat natin laging tandaan,” he emphasized.
In line with his earlier appeal for the government to enforce a stronger face mask-wearing policy, Go is urging the Executive branch to ensure full inter-agency support and collaboration with the private sector for such policy to be implemented properly.
“Dahil inobliga natin ang lahat na magsuot ng masks upang matigil ang pagkalat ng COVID-19, obligasyon rin nating mga nasa gobyerno na siguraduhing lahat ng mga Pilipino ay may may kapasidad na makakuha ng mask na isusuot para sa kanilang proteksyon. Parte ‘yan ng bayanihan,” he said.
He also urged government to establish guidelines for the seamless production and distribution of masks following the initial implementation of a program to give away free, locally-made masks to the poorest of the poor and most vulnerable households.
“Siguraduhin nating sapat ang supply ng masks. Tulungan natin ang mga lokal na industriya na gumagawa nito para rin mabigyan ng kabuhayan ang ating mga kababayan,” Go explained, adding that “wearing masks can save lives while buying locally made masks can save jobs.”
The Senator also emphasized the need to be more proactive in implementing a stronger mask wearing policy by understanding and showing compassion to the needs and limitations of the poor.
“Maging mas proactive tayo at magmalasakit sa mga mahihirap. Kung walang pambili ng mask, bigyan dapat ng libreng mask para lahat ay makapag-comply sa stronger mask wearing policy,” he urged.
Go explained that poor Filipinos are burdened by the adverse impacts of the pandemic on their livelihood. Hence, government should provide additional support for them in order to balance the need to jumpstart the economy while still protecting the health of its citizens.
“Inoobliga natin silang magsuot ng masks kahit halos wala na nga silang pambili ng pagkain. Uunahin siyempre nila ang bumili ng pagkain kaysa bumili ng mask. Para naman mabuhay, kailangan nilang bumalik sa trabaho pero hindi sila makakapagtrabaho ng maayos kung hindi sila protektado,” Go said.
“Kaya dapat lang na bigyan sila ng libreng masks para makasunod sila sa patakaran at maprotektahan ang kanilang sarili,” he added.
To enhance government efforts, Go suggested outlining the respective duties of concerned agencies relative to the production and distribution of free masks nationwide.
He suggested that the Department of Trade and Industry can lead the efforts for the production and procurement of the masks while the Department of Health and Department of Science and Technology can help determine the quality specifications needed to locally produce the proper masks.
He added that the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority should help train more workers needing livelihood to help in the local production of masks, while the Department of Social Welfare and Development should be tasked to distribute the face masks to priority beneficiaries.
Moreover, the Senator urged government to establish linkages with local suppliers of raw materials and manufacturers of critical medical equipment and personal protective equipment. He further recommended agencies concerned with business creation and employment programs to provide the necessary resources and skills training in order to boost production of locally made masks.
“Tulungan rin nating makaahon ang mga lokal na industriya, tulad ng mga mananahi at mga nagbebenta ng raw materials, na magagamit sa paggawa ng masks. Kung mapapalakas natin ang local production ng masks, mabibigyan natin ng livelihood ang mga tao, lalo na ‘yung mga nawalan ng trabaho, at mas mapoprotektahan natin ang ating mga kababayan mula sa sakit,” he continued.
Despite some experts saying that the country’s ongoing efforts are leading to “flattening of the curve” on the number of COVID-19 cases, Go renewed his call to the general public to remain vigilant, cooperate with authorities, comply with health protocols and continue to show compassion to each other.
“Pinaalalahanan ko ang publiko na ang pagsuot ng mask ay pangunahing paraan upang proteksyunan ang sarili at bilang pagrespeto o pagbibigay konsiderasyon rin sa kapwa tao. Huwag natin balewalain ang simpleng patakaran na ito na makakapagligtas ng buhay ng kapwa nating Pilipino,”said Go.
Citing medical experts, the Senator explained that wearing the right kind of mask alone can decrease the risk of catching and spreading the virus by 85%. With social distancing and the use of face shields, the risk may be reduced by more than 90%.
He also urged them to continue observing simple precautionary measures, like practicing social distancing, frequent hand washing and avoiding non-essential travels.