President Rodrigo Roa Duterte said Thursday night he is prepared to invoke the police power of the state to effectively respond to the coronavirus pandemic, allaying fears that government is running out of interventions in the present health crisis.
“Kapag sinabi na we are at a critical condition, there is no space for the doctors and the nurses to move and stay healthy, then we begin to exercise the police power of the state. When we are pushed to the wall, either by the microbe itself or by external, internal, I can always order the military and the police to go there and confiscate the operation of the hotels,” President Duterte said in a televised address.
“So kayong mga kababayan ko, huwag kayong matakot diyan sa ano. Hindi naman tayo talagang walang-wala eh. We are not really at a total loss of what to do. We know what to do.”
The chief executive, however, said he will only invoke such power to control private facilities once officials declare the country’s healthcare system is at maximum capacity.
But he noted that exercising state control over the private sector is the least favorable option in a democratic state.
President Duterte then said that his administration is doing all it can to come up with interventions that mitigate, rather than aggravate, the medical and socio-economic impact of the pandemic.
Despite government efforts, the President said the country’s only hope to fully recover from COVID-19 lies solely on massive vaccination program, noting, however, that the country has to compete with other nations in securing sufficient supply considering the current global vaccine shortage.
“Do not be afraid. Government is working. Government is busy doing everything, not nothing. Government is trying to get the things to fix all of us. Iyong mga bagay ngayon nandiyan pero wala sa ating mga kamay. Nandiyan ang bakuna, hindi sa ating kamay. Sa kamay ng ibang tao. And this will go I think before it gets better, we’ll have to go to the worst of times,” he said.
The Philippines is negotiating with vaccine manufacturers Sinovac Biotech Ltd., Sinopharm, Pfizer Inc., Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Novavax, and Gamaleya Research Institute to procure enough doses to cover 70 percent of the country’s adult population.
The government has started inoculating healthcare workers, senior citizens, and persons with comorbidities using the initial vaccine deliveries from China and the World Health Organization-led COVAX facility.
Next in line to take the jab will be economic frontliners, state security forces and other vulnerable groups.
The Department of Health (DOH) has recorded 11, 429 new infections on April 15, bringing the country’s total number of COVID-19 cases to 904, 295 with 705,164 recoveries and 15,594 deaths. PND