SECRETARY Carlito F. Galvez Jr., the chief implementer of the Inter-Agency Task Force, has warned anew of a possible spike in COVID-19 cases if Filipinos will be complacent and start ignoring minimum health protocols like wearing of face masks and face shields and social distancing.
“We are now on the Phase 3 of our National Action Plan Against COVID-19 where we intend to further open our economy, while ensuring the health and safety of our people,” he said when he spoke during the 6th Philippine National Police National Advisory Council Summit at Camp Crame which was opened by PNP chief General Camilo Pancratius P. Cascolan.
Galvez said that in Phase 1, “the government instituted measures such as lockdowns to protect public health but as a result, the economy suffered.”
“In Phase 2, we made certain adjustments to our health protocols to allow our workers to return to their workplaces, and enable some sectors and businesses to partially resume their operations.
“However, as we continue to open our economy, spikes of new cases in some parts of the country are happening similar to that being experienced by other countries across the globe,” he said.
Galvez said that the “good thing is that we have learned from our experiences during the implementation of the NAP’s earlier phases and these lessons are being applied in the Plan’s 3rd Phase.”
He explained that in Phase 3, “there will be no more trade-offs in our COVID-19 response.”
“The health of the Filipino people and our nation’s economy will get equal priority,” he said. However, Galvez said that in all these phases, public support will always be crucial in ensuring the successful implementation of the government’s prevention and mitigation measures.
“As frontliners, we need to continue reminding the public that the fight against COVID-19 requires collective action and the support of all stakeholders,” he said.
Sec. Galvez explained that although the government remains at the forefront of the war versus the unseen virus, citizens will have to do their part by strictly observing minimum health standards.
However the official said that in order to obtain the stronger support of all sectors and, most importantly, the general public, “we need to show them what’s at stake for them and the whole nation.”
“Our messaging should be anchored on what people can do to protect themselves, their loved ones and those around them. In short, everyone should do their part,” he said.
On the part of the PNP, he said that people need to view the force not just as a figure of authority but also as a partner in maintaining health, peace and security.
He cited the case of the Cebu City police whose members have become part of contact tracing teams that have been instrumental in preventing local transmissions and lowering COVID-19 cases in the city.
Galvez also cited the efforts of the National Capital Region Police Office headed by Major Gen. Debold M. Sinas in Navotas and Pateros.
He also noted the PNP’s changing roles as frontliners in deploying health care workers, swabbers and contact-tracers and building its own laboratory while sustaining compliance and discipline.
“As what Gen. Cascolan said, the PNP is undergoing transformation in its organizational culture, processes and systems with the overall objective of providing better police services that the people rightly deserve,” he said.
In his parting word, Sec. Galvez challenged the PNP and its Advisers to sustain their good initiatives and work shoulder-to-shoulder with each other and the community towards realizing all their objectives.
He also called on the police force to “use this health crisis as an opportunity to rally the public’s support behind your organization and support its peacekeeping initiatives.”