Press Briefing

Virtual Press Conference of Human Development and Poverty Reduction & Participatory Governance Cluster hosted by Presidential Communications Operations Office Undersecretary Rocky Ignacio with Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año, Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado, DSWD Secretary Rolando Bautista, DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones, DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez, DOST Secretary Fortunato dela Peña, DAR Secretary John Castriciones, TESDA Secretary Isidro Lapeña, DOH Undersecretary Rosario Vergeire, DOH Undersecretary Gerardo Bayugo, Education Undersecretary Jesus Mateo, Presidential Legislative Liaison Office Undersecretary Antonio Gallardo, DBM Assistant Secretary Rolando Toledo, DA Undersecretary Rodolfo Vicerra and Assistant National Statistician Wilma Guillen

Event Virtual Press Conference

USEC. IGNACIO: Good afternoon, Philippines, especially to our friends from the media, from local and international media.

It’s 1:42 in the afternoon, Philippine standard time. I am Undersecretary Rocky Ignacio of the Presidential Communications Operations Office and this is the Pre-SONA Virtual Presser.

The virtual presser is an interactive online video platform of PCOO launched last year to engage with the local and international media. In this virtual presser we are providing a platform for the media to clarify pressing issues ahead of the President’s State of the Nation Address.

Earlier today, the Participatory Governance and Human Development and Poverty Reduction Clusters presented the government’s plans for recovery and resilience in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Joining us today, we have Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles; from the Participatory Governance Cluster are DILG Secretary Eduardo Año and Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado. Also joining us from the Human Development and Poverty Reduction cluster is DSWD Secretary Rolando Bautista.

Also present are the cluster members from the Cabinet. We have DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones, DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez, DOST Secretary Fortunato dela Peña, DAR Secretary John Castriciones, TESDA Secretary Isidro Lapeña, DOH Undersecretary Rosario Vergeire, DOH Undersecretary Gerardo Bayugo, Education Undersecretary Jesus Mateo, Presidential Legislative Liaison Office Undersecretary Antonio Gallardo, DBM Assistant Secretary Rolando Toledo, DA Undersecretary Rodolfo Vicerra, and Assistant National Statistician Wilma Guillen.

Before we start, a couple of mechanics for the media to facilitate the Q and A portion.

First, make sure that you join in the Zoom meeting room with your name and the name of your media outlet. Questions sent in advance by the media will be read in order of submission.

To ask a question live, you may notify the moderator through the Zoom Q and A chat box. The moderator will then call your attention when it’s your turn to speak. Reporters should tell to whom their questions are directed to.

To make way for other participants, the media participants may initially ask two to three questions. You will be allowed to ask more questions later on if time permits. The Q and A will start with a live participant alternating with those who sent their questions in advance.

For those who will ask questions live, please turn your video on and stay muted. Only turn your audio on when it’s your turn to ask questions live. For those who will not ask questions live, please turn off your video and stay muted. Make sure that you are in a quiet room with the headphones on.

And now the floor is open to for the question and answer session. Again, we would start with the live questions followed by questions sent in advance.

Can we have Melo Acuña of Asia Pacific Daily?

MELO ACUÑA/ASIA PACIFIC DAILY: Good afternoon, Madam Undersecretary. I have several questions for Sec. Rolando Bautista if he would care to answer the questions.

Sa pagtatagumpay po ng pamahalaang mabawasan ang mahihirap sa pamamagitan ng poverty reduction measures, ano pang naging epekto ng COVID-19 sa ating mga mahihirap? Gaano po kalawak ang kahirapan ngayon? Mayroon po ba tayong datos upang maging gabay natin sa pagpaplano ng programang tutugon sa kahirapan na nararanasan ngayon? At gaano ka-epektibo ang inyong pananaliksik sa pamamagitan ng household targeting, Mr. Secretary.

USEC. IGNACIO: Can we have Sec. Bautista?

SEC. BAUTISTA: Thank you for that question. May I refer you to the … USec. Rose Edillon of NEDA to answer your question.

USEC. IGNACIO: Can we have from the NEDA? ASec?

Okay … Melo, may—I think wala iyong NEDA. May other question ka for Sec. Bautista, please? Go ahead.

MELO ACUÑA/ASIA PACIFIC DAILY: Okay. Siguro po kay Sec. Liling Briones na kung uubra. Sec. Liling, magandang hapon po.

SEC. BRIONES: Good afternoon. Magandang hapon.

MELO ACUÑA/ASIA PACIFIC DAILY: Kumusta na po kayo. Mayroon pong binanggit iyong American Literacy Association na tila problemado tayo sa buong daigdig dahil sa COVID. Unang binanggit niya ay kung mayroong blended na paraan para sa edukasyon, eh baka mahirapan din sapagkat malaki ang papel ng mga magulang, eh, hindi naman po gasinong text savvy iyong mga magulang. Paano magagabayan ang mga bata? At ano rin ang magiging palatuntunan ng Department of Education tungkol po sa mga aklatan sapagkat ayon sa American Literacy Association, sa kanilang webinar kaninang ala-singko ng umaga, ay kailangang ma-quarantine din iyong mga aklat nang at least three days upang maiwasan ang pagkalat ng mikrobyo at ng virus na dala ng COVID. Sec. Liling Briones, please.

SEC. BRIONES: Thank you for your question. Ang tanong mo paano na iyong parents? Since April, kasi itong desisyon natin for blended, ang desisyon natin ng opening ng school day ay in consultation with parents as well kasi mga 800,000 respondents ang sumagot kasama ang mga parents.

Ngayon, alam natin na iba’t iba ang kakayanan ng mga parents. So, mayroon tayong programs both at the regional level as well as the national level kung saan ina-up skill, bini-brief ang mga parents. Kagaya ng Valenzuela, wala pong COVID mayroon na silang Nanay Teacher Program; sa Region I, sa CAR, mayroon silang Parents Academy – at the regional level. At the national level naman, marami na tayong mga programs, mga webinar which are designed for parents. Talagang para ma-orient sila sa mga pangyayari ngayon at saka sa bagong paraan.

Iba’t iba, tama ka, iba’t iba ang kakayahan ng mga teacher. Iyong hindi talaga nila—sasabihin nilang hindi nila kayang makatulong sa pagturo ng mga bata ay we are also going to recruit iyong tinatawag nating ‘para-teachers’ at saka mga teacher volunteers.

Iyong para-teachers, ano sila, they are trained in teaching pero may deficiency sa kanilang qualifications or what pero as far as teaching is concerned, mayroon silang training. Wala pa siguro silang—hindi pa sila pumasa sa examinations, etc. We are recruiting them at saka we are also asking for volunteer teachers, mga yaya, mga ate, mga members of the household.

Ito, mukhang napaka-imposibleng gagawin at the national level because we’re thinking of 47,000 schools but if you go down to the school level, mas naha-handle kasi nagkakakilala silang lahat sa isang school at saka tumutulong din ang mga local governments.

Hindi lamang parents dito ang ating kailangan sa blended learning kung hindi ang local governments as well. Kasi sila ang tutulong sa pag-distribute ng programs ng ating modular system materials kung sakali man wala talaga tayong connectivity at saka sila ang makakatulong sa pag-trace ng mga bata kasi halimbawa, isang barrio o isang mountain or isang island, the officials know.

So, tatlong grupo ito: The DepEd, the teachers, and the parents and local government. Ang local government napakalaki. Nakita natin ito sa Navotas natin na simulation, parang nandoon lahat ng hinahanap natin kasi ang congressman, si Cong. Tiangco, ang mayor si Mayor Tiangco, ang mga barrio officials, barangay officials, mga teachers at mga parents talagang nag-cooperate.

Now, iyong second question ninyo, that’s absolutely correct ‘no kasi sabi natin kailangan mag-washing hands tayo, kailangan sanitized ang gagamitin. In the simulation, ipinapakita iyong halimbawa, iyong school boxes kasi a ‘school in a box’ ang tawag, hindi na school bag dahil sobrang dami ng materyales na ilalagay, masikip na sa isang school bag, mga books, may toys, mga kung anu-ano.

All of these are carefully packed and sanitized, kina-quarantine din sila. Ipinakita iyan sa simulation sa Navotas and we are encouraging all the other regions, kaniya-kaniya silang diskarte, isip ng paraan na iyong mga materials na idi-distribute naman ay malinis, ay na-sanitize at saka sinusunod ang minimum health standards.

So, we are taking all the precautions possible. Kino-cover natin natin lahat ng mga at least nearly all the challenges that have to be dealt with in a very limited span of time.

MELO ACUÑA/ASIA PACIFIC DAILY: Sec. Briones, hindi po kaya sa ganitong pagkakataon maapektuhan iyong performance natin sapagkat binanggit po sa program for international student assessment na may problema tayo sa pagbabasa at sa pag-unawa kahit sa pagbibilang. Hindi po kaya iyong kalidad ng edukasyon ang magkaproblema ngayon?

SEC. BRIONES: Actually, bago pa mag-COVID, nag-consultation din kami, kasi I believe in consultations. Ngayon, ang desisyon ay patuloy pa kaming mag-participate sa COVID—sa PISA, iyong international assessment kasi wala tayong basis for comparison actually dahil first time in the history of Philippine education na we participated in an international assessment of the kind of PISA. It had never been done before, so we have no baseline.

And so, we decided in the light of the results of the PISA examination na sumali tayo and I’m glad and I appreciate those who recognize the courage of the Department in facing the mirror and finding out how we stand with the rest of the countries of the world. So, iyon ang status natin.

Now, ang question mo, maa-affect kaya ang ina-aspire natin? Kasi mayroon tayong programa bago pa nag-COVID, we already launched this program of EduKalidad. Talagang sadya iyon and sinasabi nating we shift to quality education as mandated by the Constitution.

Ngayon, naabutan tayo ng COVID kaya ang nangyari, sumulat kami sa PISA; pero hindi lamang ang Pilipinas ang sumulat sa PISA. PISA mismo ang nag-postpone ng holding ng examinations dahil hindi lamang ang Pilipinas ang apektado pero maraming bansa ang ma-affected ang kanilang standing or performance in the international competition—no, it’s not a competition – assessment, with the COVID.

Pinostpone iyon, so for next year kasi sana we’re already gearing up, na-postpone iyon. So, mayroon tayong kaunting lead time, hopefully to focus on quality.

MELO ACUÑA/ASIA PACIFIC DAILY: Opo. Salamat po. USec., balikan kaya natin si Secretary ng DSWD o ang NEDA tungkol sa poverty statistics?

USEC. IGNACIO: Can we have representative from NEDA?

I think, Melo…

MELO ACUÑA/ASIA PACIFIC DAILY: Okay.

USEC. IGNACIO: Okay. Thank you, Melo.

MELO ACUÑA/ASIA PACIFIC DAILY: Next time na lang. Salamat. Magandang hapon.

USEC. IGNACIO: Okay. Thank you, Sec. Briones. Question from Virgilio Galvez of Manila Shimbun for DBM Sec. Avisado: What is going to be the top most priority for the proposed 2021 Budget? For DBM Sec. Avisado, please.

Can we have Sec. Avisado, please?

Sec. Avisado, your question from Virgilio Galvez of Manila Shimbun: What is going to be the top most priority for the proposed 2021 Budget?

ASEC. TOLEDO: USec. Rocky?

USEC. IGNACIO: Yes po?

ASEC. TOLEDO: This is ASec. Rolly Toledo from the DBM. I think Sec. Wendel already left the room he has to attend an important meeting also. So, in behalf of the DBM, may I answer the question, USec.?

USEC. IGNACIO: Go ahead, sir.

ASEC. TOLEDO: Okay. Now, the DBM just finalized conducting our executive review of the budget for fiscal year 2021. So, the priority of the government as far as moving forward is basically (1) is the focus on health sector – establishing more health facilities, purchasing necessary hospital equipment, test kits and COVID-19 vaccine. Also ensuring sufficient and efficient deployment of health professionals to address COVID-19 and other infectious diseases and implementation of Universal Healthcare Law.

Now, another one is on the food security. Alam naman po naman natin na at this time kailangan natin talaga ang food production as far as sa pangangailangan ng ating mga mamamayan. This is to ensure unhampered movement of agricultural goods and services through efficient and transport and logistics system and also, to intensify provision of farm machineries and equipment to farmers agriculture-based enterprises for their modernization.

Anotherone, USec. Rocky, is hindi natin iniiwanan iyong ating programa as far as infrastructure projects. This is basically the implementation of crucial and shelved already projects under our Build, Build, Build Program focusing on health-related facilities, digital infrastructure, constructing and enhancing logistic and road infrastructure.

Another one is the industry and livelihood. Kailangan talaga nating i-promote ito which is basically assisting micro, small and medium enterprises through the MSME resilient program, expanded shared service facilities and [unclear] inclusive innovation centers.

But of course, patuloy po rin nating susuportahan ang programa ng ating edukasyon. So, we will pursue, still continue to do that lalo na po with this new or laging sinasabi ni Sec. Briones on blended learning.

Okay, ang last, kasama po din dito ang ating fast tracking the implementation of the Philippine Identification System as far as the governance is concerned. And also, to support the programs of the Department of Information and Communication Technology by investing in ICT facilities, e-learning platforms and digital upscaling that are critical for online and remote government operations. So, basically—but of course, tinitingnan din po natin iyong patuloy iyong on-going programs ng ating gobyerno, Usec. Rocky.

USEC. IGNACIO: Okay. Salamat po, ASec. Toledo. Can we have Yellow of CCTV?

HUANG ZHENG ZHENG/CCTV: Thank you, USec. I have two questions, first one I’d like to address to DTI Sec. Lopez and also the Department of Agriculture Undersecretary Rodolfo.

So, amid this pandemic, boosting our economy is very important, so let’s look at China. China has already promoted online sale platforms such as livestream to promote their local products and I think around the world several countries also joined this kind of platform. Like in Rwanda they sell their coffee beans to Chinese customer and also our neighbor country Thailand, they also have this kind of plan. Their Vice Prime Minister sells their local fruit to the Chinese market. So, I would like to know from the Philippine side if we also have this kind of plan, this kind of innovation way to promote our local products of the Philippines to Chinese markets? And also, do we have plan to join this year’s China International Import Exhibition (CIIE) in China also?

Thank you.

And the second question I would like to address to DOH Sec. Duque. Can we have more details/information about the cooperation of the vaccine trials between Philippines and China and are you confident that we can have this kind of vaccine as soon as possible?

Thank you.

USEC. IGNACIO: Can we request Sec. Lopez, DTI to answer Ms. Yellow’s question? Sec. Lopez, please?

SEC. LOPEZ: Yes, good afternoon to the CCTV. We are definitely promoting and continuously promoting our exportation of products whether they are agriculture and even non-agriculture products to the China market. Of course, China is really a huge, huge market in fact, it’s our number one trading partner as of last year and we expect that it will continue to be so.

Definitely, we are also promoting and empowering a lot of our entrepreneurs into online selling. That was the dimension of the question earlier and we are conducting a lot of webinars that will empower many of our—even our SMEs, to go into online and e-commerce and that will definitely expand their reach of the products that they are trying to sell.

Philippines will—again, definitely we have just written our counterpart in China that we shall be participating in the critical expos that are coming soon. This is the CIFIT Expo, one that related to investments and trade as well as the CIIE, on the China International Import Expo usually done in November.

So, we continue to be active in the China market despite the pandemic and we continue to support all these programs that will be eventually beneficial to the stakeholders.

Thank you.

USEC. IGNACIO: Thank you, Sec. Lopez. Can we have DA USec. Rodolfo Vicerra?

USEC. VICERRA: Good afternoon. Let me just add to what Sec. Mon Lopez has said. I would like to focus on our Kadiwa effort. Actually, it’s a marketing arrangement that the Department started especially this year.

And with the onset of the pandemic, it was really our main effort in helping the farmers because we actually did not have a budget for this year on that and we were very much encouraged by the reactions from the private sectors, from our farmers groups, from the cooperatives.

In the coordination process, we were able to coordinate with the producers. I think by end of last May, we were already reporting something like P5 billion worth of goods that were delivered by the farmers to the urban centers particularly Metro Manila. And that is one thing that we would like to propose later on for our budget for next year that we need probably more support in terms of mobilizing our farmers groups and the traders who will bring the farmers produce to the urban centers.

Thank you very much.

USEC. IGNACIO: Thank you, USec. Can we have Sec. Duque?

SEC. DUQUE: Again, on behalf of the Department of Health, I would like to greet all of you a good afternoon.

The vaccine initiative being undertaken by several countries, China is one of them, I think in the US there are pharmaceutical companies that have also embarked on vaccine development. But the agency that leads into the monitoring of the vaccine development programs of various countries is actually the Department of Science and Technology. And if I may just refer the question for updates as regards vaccine development to Sec. Boy de la Peña of DOST?

So, that is what I can say. There was a time, well, three months ago when the Xeno Pharma, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in China has sent us a letter if we could sign-up for a global vaccine safety quality trial and study. And we informally informed them that yes, we would study the matter, we would study the proposal. But I think after that, the communication, the correspondence has shifted to the Department of Science and Technology being the lead agency.

Thank you.

USEC. IGNACIO: Thank you, Sec. Duque. Thank you, Yellow.

Question from Ella of National Public Radio. For DOH, DILG and CabSec: What is the plan of the national government in the next six months regarding this pandemic?

Can we have Sec. Duque first?

SEC. DUQUE: Okay. The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t going away in the short term. I think this is going to stay with us and we need to live with it. But while we are living with it, we continue to ramp up, enhance, improve, increase our health system’s capacity.

The [unclear] of the national government response is (1), to flatten the epidemic curve and also to increase the health system’s capacity. The DOH is working to improve the health system’s resilience by strengthening its preparedness and response plan for public health emergencies.

Next is also it aims to further increase health service delivery capacities by implementing the health systems and establishing the Philippine Centre for Disease Control (PCDC) by designing systems for disease surveillance, control and prevention.

And it is in the pipeline also is the perfecting vaccine delivery by institutionalizing the logistics and delivery arm for vaccines for preventable diseases. And also as part of our UHC mandate, we will integrate the health systems and establish the universal access to primary care services.

And we will also continue capacity building of our healthcare workers and the aspects of surveillance, the epidemiological concepts, reporting and analysis, laboratory skills, risk communication, organization and management on outbreak response, case management and health emergency response planning.

And also, provision of health facility, information systems to ensure accurate, complete and timely data generation that’s going to support decision-making and upgrading of standards at all levels.

USEC. IGNACIO: Thank you, Secretary Duque. Can we have Secretary Año, please?

SEC. AÑO: Thank you, Usec. Rocky. Sa ngayon ay nandito na tayo sa ating Phase 2 ng ating National Action Plan. Iyong ating Phase 1 kasi, ito iyong mula March hanggang June na kung saan ang focus natin ay talagang ang ating health at ang naging limited lang iyong economic activity para mag-buildup tayo ng capacities natin – from March to June, talagang iyong ating testing capacity; iyong healthcare capacities natin, pagtatayo ng mga isolation facilities at talagang nag-lockdown tayo.

Ngayon sa Phase 2 natin ngayon – mula July hanggang September, tapos ang Phase 3 natin ay October hanggang December – ang magiging focus naman natin ngayon ay ang economic recovery habang sinu-sustain natin iyong gains natin sa pag-address ng health. So ano iyong mga steps natin dito? We will contain the emerging new cases particularly on the areas in National Capital Region, Region IV-A, Central Visayas or Region VII, Region III at saka Region VIII.

And then of course, we will continue to rebalance between health and economy, iyong tinatawag nating—tapos na tayo sa hammer, we’re now on the dancing stage. We have to rebalance continuously and we will localize the response, ito na iyong ating localized lockdown at aggressive health intervention para mapanatili naman natin na mababa iyong ating case fatality ratio.

So, how do we do that? We will continue to increase our contact tracing teams, kaya magha-hire tayo ng additional na 50,000. Ang mga LGUs natin ay kasalukuyan ding nagha-hire at ang ating testing capacity ay dapat mapaangat na natin, kung kaya nating umabot hanggang 30,000 testing a day or even up to 50,000 – iyon iyong ating pinaka-weapon at siyempre, continuously to build our isolation facilities.

Isipin natin at saka ang ating—sa Oplan Kalinga natin ay gusto natin mailagay na sa isolation facilities lahat ng positive. Iyong mga hindi pupuwedeng mag-home quarantine sapagkat walang sariling kuwarto, walang sariling CR, may mga kasamang elderly o comorbidities, hindi dapat sila mag-home quarantine para hindi talaga kumalat iyong virus.

Now for our department, we will continue to monitor the LGU in compliance with our guidelines and protocols para matulungan natin sila and they can implement all the programs/interventions in their jurisdictions as far as fighting COVID is concerned. So bibigyan natin ng pansin iyong pagbalanse sa economy at saka sa health natin. Sa mga programa na iyan ay makakasigurado kayo na as part of the Participative Governance, patuloy nating ikokonsulta iyong ating stakeholders at saka mga kababayan natin.

Thank you, Usec. Rocky.

USEC. IGNACIO: Thank you, Secretary Año. Can we have CabSec Nograles, please?

CABSEC NOGRALES: Yes. Idadagdag ko lang sa mga sinabi na ni Secretary Duque at Secretary Año. So tama po iyon, ibabalanse na natin iyong health aspect pati economic aspect. So apart doon sa health aspect, siyempre iyong continuous upgrading at pagpapalawak natin ng ating testing, tracing, treating and isolation protocols. Iyong sa research and development with DOST naman, iyong clinical trials natin pati iyong vaccine trials napakaimportante po noon.

Dito naman sa economy, siyempre malaking bahagi po dito ang role ng Kongreso lalung-lalo na doon sa next phase ng ating Bayanihan Act. So iyong Bayanihan Act 2, Part 2, kung saan napapaloob din dito iyong stimulus package natin para tulungan ang ating mga micro, small and medium enterprises at iyong ibang mga industriya para sa ating jumpstarting ng ating ekonomiya at pag-stimulate ng ating ekonomiya:

So nandoon nakapaloob iyong assistance natin to MSMEs, iyong pagbibigay natin ng access to credit para sa kanila, at siyempre kasabay nga po dito iyong enhancement ng ating access to transportation. Alam naman po natin na napakalaking bahagi po ng pag-stimulate at jumpstart ng ekonomiya ang role ng transportation. So asahan po natin na mas ma-enhance pa iyong capabilities and accessibility ng ating transportation sector.

At siyempre, huwag po natin kalimutan iyong ating mga social protection interventions ng ating gobyerno, kailangan po nating pangalagaan ang mga pangangailangan ng ating pinaka-vulnerable sectors of society, at siguro nakikita naman po natin ngayon, ang worldwide trend po, ang next problem po natin is siyempre iyong kagutuman. So kasama rin ng kagutuman siyempre, iyong problema natin ng kalusugan or iyong access to—iyong nutrisyon, nutritional intake ng ating mga mamamayan.

So napakaimportante po na may mga challenges po tayo doon sa ating government feeding programs lalung-lalo na doon sa pag-implement ng mga government feeding programs natin ng DepEd pati ng DSWD especially right now na wala pa po tayong face-to-face classes. So kailangan bantayan po natin iyong paraan kung saan ma-ensure po natin na iyong government feeding programs natin bagama’t wala pang face-to-face ay maging matagumpay pa rin at ma-achieve at ma-accomplish natin iyong ating mga targets.

At pangalawa po, kailangan i-link natin ang ating mga farmers and fisherfolks lalo na iyong mga small farmers and fisherfolks organizations sa ating mga government feeding programs para sa ganoon hindi lamang natin tinutulungan iyong ating mga beneficiaries sa feeding program, tinutulungan din po natin iyong sektor ng mga magsasaka at mangingisda. At siyempre special attention has to be given doon sa first 1,000 days of life, iyong kalusugan ng mag-nanay ‘no, mula sa pagka-pregnant noong nanay hanggang sa pagpanganak niya; at ang crucial dito iyong first 1,000 days of life noong sanggol.

And then of course, iyong National ID System which will be very important po sa pag-implement natin ng ating mga social interventions. We hope to be able to implement the national ID this year so that mas madali po ang pagbibigay natin ng mga social protection/interventions ng gobyerno gamit ang national ID.

USEC. IGNACIO: Opo. For DOH, DILG: What are the most difficult issues that have prevented us from flattening the curve? Can we have Secretary Duque, please?

SEC. DUQUE: Well, first of all, we have successfully flattened the curve since April and the metrics for saying, arriving at that conclusion of flattening the curve is actually, one, the case doubling time of the COVID-19 infection has actually become longer. It used to have a very short case doubling time of about 2.5 days during the initial phase of the pandemic. The other metric to say that we have flattened the curve, is also the mortality doubling time has also got longer and has now—is at least now in the moderate risk classification.

And why we have flattened the curve? I have earlier indicated that the—this was able to provide us a window of opportunity to improve and to increase, ramp up our health systems capacity. And so we will scale up all of our pandemic response in the two fundamental areas: One is in the area of public health interventions; the non-pharmaceutical interventions by way of decreasing vulnerabilities by increasing physical and mental resilience, reducing the contact among potentially infected people by way of engineering controls and the administrative policies. Engineering controls an example of which we use physical distancing, no less than one meter between people and also resorting to administrative controls such as adopting work-from-home, alternative strategies.

And also part of our non-pharmaceutical intervention would be reducing transmission by ensuring that people wear mask and that they properly wash their hands and they sanitize, use disinfectants on surfaces, on items that are usually held very frequently. And also another measure with regard to non-pharmaceutical public health intervention is to reduce the duration of infection by early detection, isolation and treatment of infected individuals.

And of course last but not the least is to ensure that the provision of healthcare services and managing cases is prioritized and making sure that not just for services for COVID cases but also for non-COVID cases must be observed. And this is one of the many measures that we need to scale up as we continue to manage and to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

USEC. IGNACIO: Okay. Thank you, Secretary Duque. Can we have Secretary Año and CabSec Nograles, please? Secretary Año, please.

SEC. AÑO: Thank you, Usec. Rocky. While our efforts are proved to be effective in preventing the sudden surge of COVID-19 cases in our country, however, we still continue to face pivotal challenges because when we lockdown Luzon and other parts of the country, still we have to open up already. Like for example last June, nagbaba tayo ng classification because we have to start opening up the economy and somehow also the transportation.

So nagkaroon na naman tayo ng mga movement and at the same time one of the biggest factor also the OFWs and the LSIs that we have to bring to the provinces. And we know that most of the transmissions in the provinces are brought by the OFWs and LSIs. And isa ring naging hamon sa atin iyong contact tracing natin, so that’s why we are doing all of these programs now like for example, increasing further our contact tracers. And at the same time, marami pa tayong mga kababayan din na hindi pa nag-o-observe ng minimum health standards, whis is really the problem. Sometimes naka-ECQ na iyong isang lugar, nagsi-celebrate pa sila ng piyesta, nagba-violate pa rin sila ng quarantine protocols, so iyon ‘yung mga factors bakit dumami pa rin.

And at the same time also, iyong mga kababayan natin na nagtatago, nagtatago sa bahay nila, ayaw ipaalam na positive sila kaya tuloy patuloy nakakapag-transmit. Pero may na nga tayong mga programa diyan katulad ng Oplan Kalinga na kung saan ay ililipat natin sila sa isolation facilities.

Totoo na maraming challenges pa but the good thing is if you look at our mortality rate ay talagang mababa iyong ating case fatality ratio, ang ating positivity rate. And at the same time also, by standard nakita natin na maganda ang ginagawa ng ating pamahalaan. So we will continue to improve our performance think of innovation on how to really flatten the curve.

USEC. IGNACIO: Thank you, Secretary Año. Can we have Secretary Nograles?

CABSEC NOGRALES: Yes. Ang idadagdag ko lang siguro, we have to emphasize now at ito ay kasama rin naman po dito sa ating National Action Plan Phase 2, iyong localized action na talaga ng LGUs. Napakaimportante po dito sa phase 2, habang binubuksan natin ang ekonomiya, dapat maging mabilis po ang pagtugon at aksiyon ng ating mga local government units.

So I think with more than 100 days na it was the national IATF na gumagawa ng mga desisyon hinggil sa community quarantine, marami na sa ating mga LGUs ang alam na nila kumbaga ano iyong mga parameters ng pag-measure kung kailangan ba talagang umaksiyon ‘no. So we will now be focusing on proper and enhanced coordination with our LGUs to ensure na kapag may nakita iyong mga LGUs na spike sa cases or alarming iyong cases whether it is on a street level or a purok level or a barangay level, or a building level for urban cities ay dapat agad umaaksiyon iyong ating mga LGUs.

At kapag nag-i-impose po sila ng mga community quarantine, kailangan alalahanin nga po na it’s a 14-day, dapat 14-day po iyong community quarantine, hindi po puwede 2 or 3 or 5 days lamang because of the incubation period nga ng virus na ito, so iyon po, kailangan maganda po ang magiging response ng ating LGU. Anyway nandiyan naman ang national government, mag-step kung kinakailangan. But in the meantime while we’re focusing on other programs, hindi natin nakakalimutan iyan and then we really need and depend on the LGUs to be more proactive sa pagtugon sa mga community quarantines halimbawa.

USEC. IGNACIO: Okay. Thank you, Secretary Nograles. Can we have Warren De Guzman of ABS-CBN?

WARREN DE GUZMAN/ABS-CBN: Hello, good afternoon. I have three questions. First, a follow up of the question of Melo: If NEDA and DSWD have an update on the impact of COVID-19 on poverty, can you quantify the effect? The only data that’s available, PSA’s 2015 to 2018.

To the DSWD and DBM, can we have an update on the social amelioration? How much has been distributed now? What’s the percentage completion and what is the new target for 100% distribution? And regarding social amelioration, are you still considering this in the 2021 budget?

And for Labor Department, Maybank Kim Eng has released a study published online saying that the Philippines will be the worst-hit by the COVID-19 crisis in terms of unemployment – 8 million unemployed or 18.5% of the Philippine job force. The April jobs data already showed that we’re at 7.3 million unemployed. They’re saying 8 million unemployed directly because of COVID-19. Can I get a response, please? Thank you.

USEC. IGNACIO: Can we have Secretary Bautista, please?

SEC. BAUTISTA: Okay, thank you. Based on the perspective of the World Bank or rather the NEDA, the World Bank estimates that the COVID-19 pandemic could push 71 to 100 million people into extreme poverty and the global extreme poverty rate could increase from 8.23% in 2019 to 8.82% to 9.18% in 2020. While there have not been any national poverty estimates up to year 2022, a contraction of the economy by .2% in the first quarter of 2020 and the increase in unemployment rate of 17.7% in April will contribute to a decrease in household income.

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic among individuals and families can be managed through social protection measures which are a key in reducing the poverty incident. This was exemplified when the DBM re-allocated the 2020 National Budget with the social security, welfare and employment sector having a 55% budget increase by 168 billion.

Along this line, as such social safety nets programs that have been implemented include the following: The DSWD in partnership with DILG distributed food and non-food items and extended the Social Amelioration Program to both poor and non-poor households. The DOLE provided assistance to the labor sector through the TUPAD and CAMP. The DA offered cash assistance and survival and recovery loan to farmers and fisherfolk. The DTI ordered a moratorium on rent and loan payments of small business corporation borrowers. It has also provided policy guidelines to allow business to safely operate, generate income, and avoid job losses. The DOF and the SSS implemented a Small Business Wage Subsidy Program Similar measures should be continue implemented to avoid further job and income losses.

With regards to your question about the update on the Social Amelioration Program, for the appreciation of everyone, we have already finished the first tranche of the Social Amelioration Program. Just to give you a data on this, for the 4Ps beneficiaries, we’re talking here of the first tranche, there are more than 3.8 million were paid in the amount of more than 16.8 billion. For the 4Ps, non-cash card holders/beneficiaries, there are 216 thousand plus beneficiaries paid with an amount of 1.5 billion.

For the non-4Ps beneficiaries, this is where we transfer funds to the local government units; there were 13.3 million beneficiaries who were paid in the amount of 80.6 billion pesos. Then we have also paid the transport group beneficiaries with 98,132, all of them and the amount paid was 785 million plus. So as a total, we are talking here of 17.6 million beneficiaries that were paid in the amount of 99.7 billion pesos.

With regards to the second tranche, as of now at present, we have paid 2.18 million beneficiaries for the digital ‘no, using the financial service providers in the amount of 12.2 billion pesos. So apparently, this is the update of our second tranche and for all you know, we have partnered with the different financial service providers to assist us and to ensure the speedy giving of payouts. I’m talking here of the 6 financial providers that we’ve partnered with, this is with the technical systems provided by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

But other than that, when we talk of areas wherein there are no online payments, then we partnered with the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the PNP and of course the LGUs so that in case that we have to provide the payout in far-flung areas, island barangays, island municipalities then we have to do it. We can do this by either house-to-house or big venue payouts. So apparently, we have to simultaneously do the digital payout and at the same time the manual payout to ensure that there will be wide coverage of payout that will be given to our beneficiaries.

USEC. IGNACIO: Can we have DBM Assistant Secretary Toledo, please?

DBM ASEC. TOLEDO: Yes, Usec. Rocky.

USEC. IGNACIO: Yes, we have Warren de Guzman from ABS-CBN.

DBM ASEC. TOLEDO: Okay. As to the funding of our Social Amelioration Program as mentioned by Secretary Bautista, we have already provided the DSWD with the 200 billion funds for the Social Amelioration Program. So we have provided that already Usec. Rocky, Warren. So just to share with you, probably for the details you can take a look as far as not just only for the Social Amelioration Program of the government but also the total response or rather releases that we have provided in response to COVID. You can see that in our website. So as a matter of fact, we have already released around 374.8 billion already as far as our response for the COVID. So, thank you.

USEC. IGNACIO: Can we have DOLE Undersecretary Benavidez?

DOLE USEC. BENAVIDEZ: Thank you, Usec. Rocky. Maraming salamat po doon sa katanungan patungkol po doon sa tumataas na datos po natin sa unemployment rate. Totoo po, sa datos po ng PSA, ganoon pa man po ng ibang organisasyon, ganoon na din po sa amin sa Department of Labor and Employment, nakita po namin iyong pagtaas po ng datos ng unemployment rate sa Pilipinas.

Nakakalungkot po pero ito po ay inasahan na po namin noong una pa man po tayong pansamantalang magsara po ng negosyo. Ito po ay sa kadahilanan na kapag ang mga negosyo po ay pansamantalang magsara, natural iyong ating mga manggagawa ay mawawalan po ng trabaho either temporarily or permanently. Ang pinakamabisang paraan po para po tayo ay doon po sa magandang datos po natin ng unemployment as well as employment rate bago pa man po ang pandemya ay iyong unti-unti at dahan-dahang pagbabalik ng mga negosyo at ekonomiya.

Subalit sa unti-unti at dahan-dahan po nating pagbubukas ng mga negosyo, kailangan po nating pairalin iyong tinatawag po nating minimum health standards nang sa ganoon, maprotektahan po natin iyong mga manggagawa ganoon na din po iyong mga nagnenegosyo.

Doon naman po sa mga talagang mawawalan permanently ng trabaho, ang Kagawaran po ay handa po silang tulungan at siguraduhin na iyong kanilang mga benepisyong tinatakda po sa batas paggawa ay maibigay po sa kanila katulad po ng separation pay ganoon na din po iyong pag-avail po ng mga displaced worker noong tinatawag po nating unemployment insurance na puwede po nilang i-apply sa SSS.

Bukod po dito, mayroon po tayong mga programa para po doon sa mga displaced workers. Marahil po makipag-ugnayan lang po sila sa anumang pinakamalapit pong opisina ng Department of Labor and Employment. Maraming salamat po…

USEC. IGNACIO: Okay, thank you. Thank you, Warren de Guzman. Question from Jovic Yee of Philippine Daily Inquirer for Secretary Duque, Secretary Año and for DOLE: The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the country’s vulnerabilities, particularly in the area of human resources for health. Moving forward, how can the government ensure that every barangay, hospital and other health facilities have enough manpower and at the same time what are the other incentives that may be given to our frontliners to keep them home?

Secretary Duque, first…

DOH SEC. DUQUE: Well, thank you very much. As of July 12, 2020 the DOH has already provided 18,030 health personnel to the different health facilities needing health personnel augmentation for COVID-19 response through the following: We have re-deployed nurses, about 8,722, under the Nurse Deployment Project for hospital-based and community-based assigned in particular, for contact tracing and swab testing. This is part of our COVID-19 response.

We have also resorted to emergency hiring of health personnel, a total of 5,144. And these are spread over the different facilities and the Bureau of Quarantine has 15.7% in the COVID-19 diagnostic facility including of course our reference laboratories and also 6.6% in COVID-19 referral facility.

And we also assigned about 1% of this to the Epidemiology and the Surveillance Units and the biggest share or the biggest percentage went to the DOH hospitals and LGU as well as other hospitals including private hospitals in Cebu. When Cebu had an outbreak we have to insure that we would be able to augment their human resource for health requirement. And also assigned some of them to our several Mega Ligtas COVID-19 Centers and also in our community Isolation units or treatment and monitoring facilities and also we have deployed additional human resource for health for COVID response by way of 334 post-residency physicians deployed in the priority health facilities, 3,830 public health associates assigned in the Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Units as well as in the Local Epidemiology and Surveillance Units who play active roles in contact tracing and surveillance.

And also, the government has budgeted some billion pesos for the procurement of high grade quality Personal Protective Equipment and also we continue, we insure that these workers are protected again by way of PPEs; improved compensation and incentives including hazard pays through the Magna Carta of Public Health Workers such as hazard allowance, subsistence allowance, longevity pay, laundry allowance and remote assignment allowance.

DOH is also pushing for the amendment of the Magna Carta of Health W-orkers which will increase benefits and insure that these benefits are received specially at the local level.

USEC. IGNACIO: Thank you. Can we have, Secretary Año please.

SEC. AÑO: Thank you, Usec. Rocky. First of all, we recognize that our current capacities are not enough [signal fade] patients. But you know even rich countries like United States, Russia, Italy are also overwhelmed because of this pandemic. But nevertheless, we continue to beef up our resources both in human and materials.

Unahin muna natin sa materials. We are able to build up our capacities. In fact, we have our bed capacity up to 13,000. Sa Ligtas COVID Isolation Facilities, mayroon tayong total of 65,169 bed and hopefully tuluy-tuloy iyong pag-build up atin. With the LGUs ang target is at the end of the year umabot tayo ng 100,000 bed capacities for isolation facilities.

At sa ating Mega Ligtas Treatment Facilities, umabot na tayo sa 2,721 beds. At ayon din sa ulat ng ating Task Force on Logistics and Management of Resources, mayroon tayong supply sa PCR test kit – almost 10 million; sa ating PPEs – about 1.7 million. So, ibig sabihin nakapag-prepare tayo ng husto. But of course we will continue still to beef up our resources.

Now, on human resources, of course ‘no. We will continue to empower the LGUs down to the level of the barangays, after all this fight is led by our LGUs and we have actually set up the Hospital Command Center to insure na ang bawat hospital, both private and public ay nagkakaintindihan kung saan ire-refer ang mga bagong pasyente kapag napuno na iyong isang hospital.

At pang-apat of course, sa human resources natin ‘no, binibigyan naman natin ng incentive or hazard pay iyong ating mga health workers at mga frontliners. Ang ating mga LGUs ay nagsasagawa ng mga ganyang program. At the same time, we are providing accommodations sa mga health workers na dapat malapit na sila sa ospital na pinagtatrabahuan nila at napo-provide ng mga shuttle services para mas mabilis maihatid. At ang pinakaimportante dito nagpasa tayo ng mga ordinances na ipinagbabawal ang discrimination sa ating mga frontliners at saka mga health workers.

And later on, nakikipag-lobby tayo sa ating mga Congress na magpasa ng mga batas para magbigay pa ng dagdag na benepisyo sa ating mga frontline health workers kagaya ng additional allowance, free mandatory continuing medical education at iba pang mga incentives at sana nga ma-extend pa ito sa family members ng ating mga health workers, ng sa ganoon, mas lalo silang inspire at ganadong magtrabaho.

So, sabi nga We Heal as One, but our health workers and frontliners really are our what you call heroes na dapat suportahan.

USEC. IGNACIO: Opo, thank you, Secretary Año. Can we have Usec. Buenavides, please?

USEC. BUENAVIDES: Maraming salamat, Usec Rocky. Gusto ko pong tutukan iyong usapin sa human resource, kasi alam naman po natin na mayroon po tayong mataas na pangangailangan doon po sa mga health professional. Kaya patuloy po kaming nakikipag-ugnayan sa pamamagitan po ng Professional Regulations Commission kung saan po siya po ang may supervision din po doon po sa mga tinatawag po nating accredited professional organizations ng mga health professional para po makatulong po sila doon po sa pagpupuno ng pangangailangan po natin sa mga nurses at sa mga doctors.

Bukod po doon, alam naman po natin that for the last few months, marami pong mga umuwi pong mga OFWs at iyong mga OFW po na iyon, marami po sa kanila ay nasa health or medical profession. Patuloy po naming silang hinihikayat na habang nag-aantay po sila ng panibago po nilang kontrata abroad ay kung maaari po ay makatulong po sila sa paglaban po natin dito po sa COVID.

Bukod po dito, Usec. Rocky, kami po ay sumusuporta din doon po sa mga panukalang batas na magbibigay ng karagdagang benepisyo para po sa ating mga nurses at doctors na ngayon po ay naka-pending po sa ating Mababang Kapulungan. Maraming salamat po, Usec. Rocky.

USEC. IGNACIO: Okay, salamat po Usec. Buenavides. Can we have now Aika Rey of Rappler.

AIKA REY/RAPPLER: Hello, I just have one question. There appears to be an online movement pushing for Cha-Cha to help solve the coronavirus pandemic. So on the issue of Charter Change, where is the government now in terms of plans and what is the timeline given the pandemic? Thank you.

USEC. IGNACIO: Aika, your question for?

AIKA REY/RAPPLER: For DILG or any official.

SEC. AÑO: Sa panahon ng Charter Change ang tawag natin dito ay Constitutional Reform. We do not change the Constitution, but rather we would like to make some amendment to the Constitution para maging responsive ito sa sentiment ng ating mga kababayan ‘no.

Like for example, iyong term ng ating mga elected officials tatlong taon lang, both Congress at saka mga elective local chief executives, eh isang taon siyang mag-aaral sa kanyang trabaho, tapos isang taong magtatrabaho, susunod na taon mangangampanya na siya. Sayang naman, so ang gusto sana natin diyan ay five years, two terms.

Iyong usapin din ng tinatawag nating political dynasty, gusto sana nating mabago na sa isang elective position; like for example, governor and vice governor, ayaw na natin iyong mag-asawa, magkapatid, mag-ama, mag-ina. Kasi parang nagiging family business.

Tapos iyong sa economy naman, gusto nating maipasok iyong Mandanas ruling na kung saan mas tataas iyong Internal Revenue Allotment para sa ating local government units sapagkat sila ang talagang dapat nag-i-i-spur ng development at saka nagtutugon sa mga services para sa ating mga tao.

Marami pa, marami pang mga kailangang baguhin sa ating Constitution, pero ito ay amendment, kaya constitutional reforms at hindi dapat change of the Constitution.

At sa paglaban naman ng pandemic, titingnan natin kung mayroon kailangang ipasok, pero karamihan naman ay normal legislation lang naman ang kailangan sa ating Kongreso para mas lalo nating mabigyan ng kapangyarihan ang national government at saka local government sa paglaban ng pandemic.

USEC. IGNACIO: Thank you, Aika, thank you Secretary Año. Question from Anna Camille Santilian of IBC 13 for ASEC. TOLEDO: Can you provide us a clear breakdown of the country’s current asset and liabilities, like budget and debt?

ASEC. TOLEDO: So salamat Usec. Rocky. Thank you for that question. The programed budget natin for 2020 as approved by Congress is 4.1 trillion. Ngayon as of June 30, 2020, we have already released 3.78 billion or equivalent to 92.3% of the budget. So, now the government being able to raise this much with the first half of the year, is a reflection of its commitment to allocate this budget efficiently and of course prudentially despite the ongoing health crisis.

So in fact, as mentioned kanina to fund government intervention and response to COVID-19 pandemic, the DBM has already released 374.89 billion as of June 24, 2020. Of this amount 266.24 was charged, ito po iyon from discontinued programs activities and projects, 10. 25 billion was charged from the regular agency budget and 98.41 billion was charged from our special purpose funds.

So the funds released were used to support the implementation of various Social Amelioration Programs. Okay.

Now, as far as that as the debt is concerned, the Department of Finance has announced last week during the Economic Development Cluster Pre-SONA Forum that it has raised various financing support from foreign development partners in the amount of 5.28 billion US dollar. Okay. From domestic borrowing amounting to 1.2 trillion pesos and concerning also from the remittances received from our Government-Owned and Controlled Corporations amounting to 149.6 billion.

So, this will support not only the government’s budgetary requirements for COVID-19 but also its regular operation. Now despite increase in the government borrowings, we will ensure that the country’s deficit-to-GDP ratio is kept at a sustainable level to keep our economy within the median of comparable countries in the ASEAN and East Asia. So, among [unclear] with several credit ratings and among other emerging market economies.

Meanwhile for next year, the bulk of government’s budget will be reprioritized towards containing and mitigating also the spread as well as to help the country adopt to the new normal. Thank you.

USEC. IGNACIO: Thank you, Asec. Toledo. Can we have Health Secretary Duque. May clarification lang po. So ang question po dito ng ating mga kasamahan: So, we are already flattening or has flattened the curve, Secretary Duque?

SEC. DUQUE: I mentioned that on the basis of our case doubling time that has actually become longer beyond the seven days. It’s now anywhere from 8 to 12 days case doubling time. And this is an improvement from the initial phase of the outbreak when the case doubling time was about 2.5 days.

So overtime, we have managed to stabilize the number of new cases being reported at anywhere to 200-220 cases per day. So, this is the clarification that I would like to make.

USEC. IGNACIO: Thank you, Secretary Duque. Can we now have Marita Moaje of Philippine News Agency?

MARITA MOAJE/PNA: Hello good afternoon. So, first question ko po, we know that we have to slowly open up the economy, kaya lang po some medical professionals expressed their worries na baka as we open up the economy lalong tataas pa iyong number ng infected. So, papano po ang gagawin? Kasi parang feeling nila sila iyong nasusubo, sila iyong nalalagay sa panganib because of COVID-19.

USEC. IGNACIO: Your question Marita for Secretary Duque?

MARITA MOAJE/PNA: Yes po, Ma’am.

USEC. IGNACIO: Can we have Secretary Duque, please?

SEC. DUQUE: Yes, marami pong salamat. Iyon pong mga pangamba ng atin pong mga health care professionals ay sadyang ito po ay naiintindihan natin itong kanilang pangamba dahil nga po dito sa atin namamayagpag na COVID-19 pandemic. Pero makakaasa po kayo na ginagawa po ng gobyerno ang lahat upang bigyan ng sapat na proteksyon ang atin pong mga health care workers. In fact, nag-procure nga po ang gobyerno natin ng 1 million of the PPEs na ito po ay dinistribute. Inumpisahan po natin i-distribute by end of April, nasa 334,450; as of July 5 naman po ang DOH ay nakapag-procure ng 6,062,019 PPE sets, ang karga po nito mga walo hanggang siyam na mga items at ang halaga po na atin ginamit dito ay 12.1 billion pesos and an additional 65,320 sets were acquired through savings from previous procurement.

Today po, mayroon tayong 2,069,760 PPE sets, 33.78%. Ang katumbas po nito ay nai-deliver na po natin sa pamamagitan ng ating Office for Civil Defense at mayroon na naman tayong mga 2.45 million PPE sets that have been delivered since June.

Ngayon, mayroon po tayong nakikita na downward trend in infection of healthcare workers, at ito po ay nagpapakita na ang protection na ibinibigay by way of adequate PPEs ay talagang nakatutulong sa pagpapababa ng ating infection rate among our healthcare workers at ganundin po pinaigting naman natin ang infection prevention and control measures alinsunod po sa ating mga protocols na naibaba para po sa ating mga health facilities.

Naiintindihan po natin ang pangamba ng atin pong mga healthcare workers, kaya naman mas papaigtingin pa natin ang pagkalinga sa kanila at sa paniniguro na ang lahat ng mga hakbang ay nakalatag para masiguro ang kanilang kaligtasan at proteksyon laban sa banta ng COVID-19.

SEC. LOPEZ: Usec. Rocky, this is Mon Lopez. Kung puwede ko lang pong makadagdag impormasyon.

Una po, nakikita natin iyong bawat araw na pag-increase po ng mga positive cases only because ho ang laki ng itinaas din natin sa pagte-test, we are doing a lot of testing. So, natural po na dumadami po iyong nagiging kaso po but we have to look at it as a whole, iyong look at the whole picture, ilan din naman iyong marami ring nagre-recover at kung ikukumpara doon sa nag-umpisa po itong pandemya na ito at ilan din po iyong mga positivity rate, kung bumaba din po ito versus noong nag-umpisa po tayo; pati po iyong death rate versus po noong nag-umpisa tayo.

Ang gusto ko lang pong sabihin talaga ay nagkaroon po tayo ng phase na talagang mahigpit na pagsasara, the economy will collapse talaga kapag talagang itinuloy pa natin iyong masyadong mahigpit na lockdown and therefore marami pong nagsasabi ho ngayon na talagang ang direction natin is really finding that balance on the economy and the health and safety of the citizen.

What we can guarantee really is – at least para hindi po masyadong mag-aalala ang ating mga health workers sa pagbubukas po ng ekonomiya – lalo pong pinaigting, talagang pinapalabas natin na iyong compliance again nung ating mga health protocols sa mga kumpanya, even dito sa mga retail establishments na binubuksan po natin, napaka-istrikto po tayo. Dahil kapag hindi po sila sumunod , isinasara naman po iyong mga establishment na iyon until ma-correct nila iyong deficiency. So ganoon po iyong garantiya naman natin na hindi po tayo pabaya sa pagre-reopen, napakaingat po.

Isa rin po sa dapat nating maintindihan din na as reopen the economy, it is also really important that we’ll create livelihood and income that will sustain also good health para po may pambili ng sapat na pagkain, nutrisyon para po sa ating mga kababayan, it will also help in the health situation, health condition ng ating mamamayan, kung mabigyan po ng livelihood at income and it will help them become better persons that will prepare them for education, for work at hindi po malnourished at bago po maano iyon…para ho ma-expedience iyon ay kailangan po talagang maibalik and ekonomiya at iyong kanila pong livelihood. So, iyon lang po.

SEC. NOGRALES: Usec. Rocky, may idadagdag po ako.

Actually kung tutuusin, dahil nga po sa localized approach ng ating community quarantine, mas magiging mabilis nga po in fact ang action ng mga local government units. Kasi ang ginawa natin sa phase 1 ng National Action Plan di ba is per province tayo nag i-impose ng mga community quarantine. But right now, dahil localized na nga po, mas granular, mas specific, so hindi naman po nawala sa equation natin iyong mga community quarantines. In fact, mas specific na siya to a street or barangay or a community level at kung mabilis umaksyon iyong LGU ay hindi na niya kailangan actually hintayin iyong national IATF na mag-declare na itong area na ito ay community quarantine.

So, dahil mas specific siya to a certain place, community, street or building, hindi madadamay iyong buong probinsiya, hindi madadamay iyong buong siyudad. Kaya kampante po tayong buksan ang ating ekonomiya slowly but surely dahil nandoon pa rin naman po iyong ating localized “lockdowns or community quarantines” sa localized level. So hindi po nawala iyong ganoong klaseng options for our LGUs.

USEC. IGNACIO: Thank you, Secretary Nograles. Friendly reminders sa ating mga kasamahan sa media, please limit your follow up questions kasi po we have a limited time. Can we have now Dick Villanueva of PTV-Paris. Dick?

DICK VILLANUEVA-PTV PARIS: Hello, Usec Rocky good afternoon po. Naririnig ninyo po ako?

USEC. IGNACIO: Yes, loud and clear.

DICK VILLANUEVA-PTV PARIS: Okay, mayroon po akong dalawang question addressed to Department of Labor and Employment. I believe si Secretary Bello wala na po diyan.

USEC. IGNACIO: We have Usec. Buenavides.

DICK VILLANUEVA-PTV PARIS: Okay, my first question is: during the lockdown caused by pandemic COVID-19 dito po sa France, marami po sa mga kababayan natin lost their jobs, especially po iyong mga undocumented na no work, no pay and most of them were members of OWWA, iyong Overseas Workers Welfare Administration. Ang tinatanong po nila bakit daw po hindi napasama iyong France na para makapag-receive ng AKAP or cash assistance from DOLE at saka sa OWWA po?

And the second one is iyon pong mga OFW dito sa Paris especially po iyong mga na-cancel na flights during the lockdown gusto pa rin po nila i-push through iyong vacation nila sa Pilipinas and once they have a negative COVID test exams results from their point of origin, are they still have to go for a mandatory test and 14 days quarantine upon arrival po sa Pilipinas?

USEC. IGNACIO: Can we have Usec. Buenavides, please?

USEC. BUENAVIDES: Thank you, Usec. Iyong una pong katanungan patungkol po doon sa entitlement po doon sa DOLE-AKAP, iyong programa pong iyon ay para po sa lahat ng OFW regardless kung nasaan man po siya, kung eligible po siya under the rules, mabibigyan po siya.

Now, kung mayroon po tayong mga pagkakataon na nadi-delay po iyong pag-release po ng assistance, siguro ang kailangan po naming hingin din po ang tulong nila na makipag-ugnayan po sa aming opisina para po ma-follow up iyong mga nai-file po nilang claim.

Now, with respect naman po doon sa pagpapauwi doon po sa mga OFWs, ang protocol po natin dito ay lahat po ng umuuwi ay dadaan pa rin po doon sa masusi po nating pagtsi-check doon po sa kanilang status, kung sila po ba ay mayroon o wala po ng COVID, sa pamamagitan po ng pagkakuwarantina po sa kanila at iyong requirement po ng testing.

Okay, thank you po. Marami pong salamat.

USEC. IGNACIO: Thank you, Mr. Dick Villanueva. Can we have Ms. Patricia Denise Chiu of Inquirer.

PATRICIA CHIU/INQUIRER: May question is for Secretary Bautista of DSWD.

USEC. IGNACIO: Hello, Ms. Patricia? Hello?

PATRICIA CHIU/INQUIRER: Yes, ma’am. Follow up po kay Secretary Bautista. Sir, earlier in your response to the second tranche distribution, you said na as of today only 2.8 million beneficiaries have received their second tranche emergency cash aid, which is roughly just about 12.58% of the total 17 million beneficiaries for the second tranche. How come it appears that the second tranche is even slower in reaching completion, sir? What is the DSWD doing differently in this tranche other than iyong reliefagad app and also the use of financial service providers to speed up the distribution?

And also, when is your updated target completion for the second tranche given that it was meant for the month of May, and it’s already mid-July, sir?

USEC. IGNACIO: Can we have Secretary Bautista, sir?

SEC. BAUTISTA: Foremost, I’d like to correct the data that you had mentioned. Apparently, we have 2.1 million beneficiaries. That is 17.39% of the target beneficiaries. And as I have mentioned earlier, this is a combination of digital payment, at the same time, the manual and direct payout being provided to the geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas.

Right now, we are also anticipating another 700,000 plus beneficiaries that will be paid out today or tomorrow. And in coordination with our field offices, they are now expediting really to provide us the list of beneficiaries particularly those who were already deduplicated.

Ito kasi ang naging isang challenges ngayon, after the liquidation reports in the list of beneficiaries na ipinasa sa ating mga field offices ay kailangan mag-undergo pa sila ng sinasabi nating deduplication. Dahil alam naman natin na hindi lang ang DSWD ang nag-provide ng social amelioration program, but also siya rin iyong …mayroon ding mga DA, mayroon din iyong DTI, mayroon ding DOLE na nagbigay ng kanilang mga SAP. So marami tayong mga insidente o mga cases na sinasabi nating nakatanggap ng double payment, at doon tayo nagiging maingat dahil apparently mas marami sanang makakatanggap ng ayuda kung iyong mga hindi nadoble ay hindi, sabihin nating, mangyayari.

And ganoon pa man, pinipilit namin talaga na mapabilis. Pero, of course, isang kunsiderasyon dito ay nakipag-partner tayo sa mga financial service providers, and hopefully that will facilitate the payment. But, as we are saying, the financial service providers are also following procedures so it does not take them one day or two days once we provide them the amount ay makakapag-payout sila. Ito kasi rin iyong kanilang procedure na kailangang sundin iyong tinatawag nating ‘know your client’.

And hindi madali. Sabihin nating madali lang kung ang beneficiary ay mayroong cellphone number or mayroon siyang smartphone number because they can contact them immediately. Pero ang tanong doon is mayroong mga client na walang cellphone number so they have to coordinate with the LGUs and coordinate with our DSWD regional field offices.

So apparently, those are some of the challenges. And we are really making an appeal to all the local government units kasi up to now, there some who have not yet liquidated or submitted their liquidation report. And apparently, the basis of having the list or the clean list after the deduplication will be dependent on the list that is submitted by the local government units.

But, having said that, talagang … during the transition when the task was given to the DSWD to implement the second tranche of payout, we have to adjust. Kaya na-break na namin iyong transition period, hopefully everything will go on smoothly. Maganda na rin iyong coordination namin with the finance service providers; ang ating mga field offices conducting parallel direct and manual payouts. So as a conservative projection, we might be able to attain 80% of accomplishment by July 31, but it’s just a conservative estimate. Apparently, we’re still hoping that by end of July, there will be more than 80%.

USEC. IGNACIO: Okay. Thank you, Patricia. Thank you, Secretary.

PATRICIA CHIU/INQUIRER: Yes, sorry, follow up. Since Secretary mentioned na there are still some LGUs who have not submitted liquidation reports. I’d just want to get the data on that, how many po and in what regions, if it’s possible?

SEC. BAUTISTA: I don’t have right now the exact data. But those who have already completed the liquidation report, it says that 1,333 LGUs out of the 1,684 LGUs ‘no. So meaning to say, may mga reasons iyong ating mga LGUs na hindi nakapag-submit. At alam ninyo naman sa DSWD, when we are talking the welfare of the other beneficiaries kasi may mga rason kasi na kailangan i-accommodate itong sector na ito, kailangan pagbigyan natin ito, and so we give them the leeway. Ang sinasabi lang namin is, once you give us the list, just ensure that they’re all eligible.

PATRICIA CHIU/INQUIRER: Sir, pero po of the 1,333, ilan na po ang na-deduplicate ng DSWD? Last na po from me, sorry.

SEC. BAUTISTA: Ang deduplication kasi namin, ang ginawa namin is by partial eh. Before, what we are doing is, we had to complete the list of beneficiaries submitted together with the liquidation report. But iyong concern kasi natin na hindi kaagad mai-submit iyong buong list kaya we are accepting partial. And based on the partial list submitted, then that’s the time na doon kami nagkakaroon ng deduplication para mas mabilis, at the same time, take-up kaagad namin iyong payroll once the list is already deduplicated or what we termed it as a clean list.

In fact, based on our effort really to validate, nagkaroon na po tayo ng more than 81,000 na beneficiaries na we termed it as duplication because of, sabihin natin, cross matching from other government agencies who also provided the SAP.

So titingnan natin iyong extent ng cases na ganiyan and if we will just take that for granted na iyon iyong sinasabi ko kanina na instead of giving more ayuda ‘no, exactly to a wider coverage of beneficiaries ay mari-restrict iyan because of the duplicity.

USEC. IGNACIO: Okay. Thank you, Patricia. Thank you, Secretary Bautista.

Can we now have Joseph Morong of GMA-7.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Usec. Rocky, can I go to Usec. Vergeire, please..?

USEC. IGNACIO: We have Secretary Duque, Joseph.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Okay. Secretary Duque, given the steady rise of COVID cases in the Philippines, from a management mitigation point of view, what worries the DOH?

SEC. DUQUE: Well, we’ve been monitoring the utilization, the critical utilization rate especially for NCR hospitals. And we have seen that in the NCR, the ward bed utilization rate has gone up to 77.4% while the isolation beds have gone up to 73%, and the ICU beds utilization rate has gone up to 61% while the mechanical ventilators are 36.3%.

And perhaps, it’s good to note that the moderate risk range in so far as the critical utilization rate is concerned is anywhere from 30 to 70 percent CUR or utilization rate. Anything that is beyond 70% that’s—well, the 30 to 70 percent is at the warning zone, while beyond 70% is danger zone. So, this is something that we continue to monitor and in fact, I have talked to our medical center chiefs and had asked them to increase their capacities, bed capacities for COVID-19 from 30 to about 50%. And I also made the same appeal to the directors of five of the largest private hospitals. So this is, of course, something that we are closely monitoring.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, given these concerns ‘no, do you think that it’s better for us to go to MECQ and not stay in GCQ?

SEC. DUQUE: Well, the metrics for GCQ are quite clear. Our case doubling time is still within the moderate risk which is anywhere from seven to 30 days case doubling time. And also, it’s premature to say now whether we should go to a de-escalated status or community quarantine because the President will make the announcement based on the Sub-Technical Working Group data analytics recommendation.

And of course, apart from increasing capacities, we need to rationalize resources as well. This means, during the hospital-bed-reserve for severe and critical cases or mild cases but with comorbidities, and that step-down care facilities are actually available to receive recovering patients from hospitals while temporary treatment and monitoring facilities are able to house mild, asymptomatic cases and those awaiting results.

The idea here is, we don’t want to overwhelm the hospitals even with patients with mild cases, and that is why we have prepared/set-up our intermediate facilities so that this will be the appropriate level of care that mild cases ought to be going to.

And also, I’d like to add that we are ensuring resources that are shared across networks and that certain hospitals, again, are not overburdened and overwhelmed while the rest of the facilities are equipped but have no or few patient referral. Consistently, its assistance management that we are improving and we continuously coordinate with the local chiefs/heads of hospitals and the temporary treatment and monitoring facilities to ensure that the intent of key policies are implemented and translated to tangible results.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: All right. Usec. Rocky, can I go to … shortly, kay DILG Secretary, please?

USEC. IGNACIO: Go ahead, Joseph.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Secretary Año, how are you doing, sir?

SEC. AÑO: Yes, Joseph.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, I understand, nag-meeting na po kahapon iyong IATF ‘no, and mayroon na pong recommendation for the President. Sir, iyon po bang IATF, ia-adopt iyong recommendation ng Metro Manila mayors na mag-GCQ muna tayo?

SEC. AÑO: Unang-una, ang pinagbabasehan muna natin dito iyong data analytics ng technical working group. Magsimula muna tayo sa science-based bago tayo pumunta sa iba’t ibang factors po, consideration like social, security – kailangan ay tingnan muna natin iyong basis.

Base doon sa meeting namin sa NCR mayors ay gusto nilang maging mahigpit pa rin pero mabuksan na ang ekonomiya. Like for example, ayaw nilang payagang lumabas pa rin iyong mga mamamayan nang hindi importante. Pero sa lahat ng workers, empleyado, ay all out sila diyan.

So, tamang-tama naman na tayo ay localized lockdown iyong ginagawa natin kaya eksakto din iyong protocols na gagawin natin.

Now, based doon sa recommendation at input ng ating mga NCR mayors, the GCQ, gusto pa rin nilang i-retain iyon. Pero sabi ko nga, mayroong mga adjustment. Kasabay din iyong pagbubukas kasi kapag sinabi mong open up iyong economy or iyong businesses, dapat iyong transportation ay a-adjust din. Kasi kung wala namang masasakyan iyong mga tao, papaano makakapagtrabaho iyong mga tao. So ito naman ay base sa discussion ng IATF din kahapon.

Now, on the decision: It is only the President who can decide and says, ito iyong desisyon ko, NCR will still be under GCQ. So we will just wait for that ‘no. a few hours from now, we’ll have a meeting with the President and he will announce later on kung ano ang desisyon niya.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Okay, sir. Thank you for your time, sir, Secretary. Usec. Rocky, thank you.

USEC. IGNACIO: Thank you, Joseph Morong. Mela Lesmoras ng PTV. Go ahead, Mela. Mela, we cannot hear you.

MELA LESMORAS/PTV: Hello, ma’am. My question is for Secretary Año po, please.

SEC. AÑO: Yes, go ahead, please.

MELA LESMORAS/PTV: Opo. Secretary Año, isa sa mga issue ngayon regarding nga sa ating COVID-19 response ay iyong house-to-house search sa mga COVID-19 patients na mild and asymptomatic. Sir, for the record lang po para malinaw sa ating mga kababayan, ano po ba iyong magiging patakaran natin dito? At reaksiyon ninyo lang po sa sinabi ni Secretary Guevarra na for him, it’s best na health workers at hindi mga pulis po ang gumawa nito?

SEC. AÑO: Tama naman iyong sinabi ni Secretary Guevarra. It is the public health authorities sa pangunguna ng ating local government chief executives at under his leadership iyong tinatawag nating mga health workers dito sa pangunguna ng city or local epidemiological surveillance units.

Iyong ating mga PNP ay support at assistance lang iyan. Pagpunta nila sa isang localized area na under lockdown, mayroon na kasing listahan ang ating mga LESU, CESU kung sino iyong mga positive diyan based na rin iyan sa contact tracing at saka sa ginawang mga testing. The problem, karamihan kasi ay naka-home quarantine, ito rin ang problema kaya nagkakaroon pa tayo ng contamination kasi hindi naman proper inu-observe iyong home quarantine.

Ginawa natin sa Cebu iyan; sa Navotas, ginagawa natin ngayon. Lahat na ngayon na positive ay dadalhin natin sa isolation facilities na. Ang papayagan po na magkaroon ng home quarantine kapag na-satisfy niya nga iyong tatlong kundisyon – may sarili siyang kuwarto, may sarili siyang comfort room, at saka walang nakatira comorbidity, elderly, vulnerable, buntis o may sakit doon sa bahay – all the rest, kailangan ay i-isolate natin.

So inuulit ko, hindi pulis o PNP ang pupunta sa mga bahay sapagkat hindi naman sila trained dito; ang pupunta diyan ay iyong ating mga LESU, CESU, health workers, health officers at naka-PPE iyong mga iyan.

Ngayon, ayon sa batas, sa RA 11332, dapat ay ilabas natin sila doon kung hindi, ilalagay mo sa panganib iyong mga kasama ninyo sa bahay o kaya iyong mga kapitbahay niya. At doon sa batas ay may kaukulang parusa doon kapag hindi ka sumunod ‘no – ranging from one to six months imprisonment, or fine of 20-50,000 peso. Lalo na po ikaw mismo iyong may sakit at ayaw mong magpa-quarantine, ikaw ay lalabag sa batas na ito. Ganoon din iyong kapitbahay or miyembro ng pamilya na alam niyang mayroong positive ay ayaw niyang i-report, mananagot din siya sa batas na iyan.

Ito ay kailangan nating ipatupad para naman sigurado ang kaligtasan ng mga mamamayan at saka mapabilis din iyong pag-recover ng ating mga positive COVID patients.

MELA LESMORAS/PTV: Opo. Thank you so much, Secretary Año. Usec. Rocky, may I also ask the stand lang po ni Secretary Duque and CabSec Nograles on this Oplan Kalinga po.

USEC. IGNACIO: Go ahead. Secretary Duque, please.

SEC. DUQUE: The Oplan Kalinga objective ay maganda naman ang objective dahil unang-una, kung ang isang COVID patient ay nasa kaniyang tahanan na wala namang hiwalay na comfort room, wala namang hiwalay na kama at may mga kasamang high risk na mga kapamilya katulad ng nanay o tatay na 60 years and above na mayroon pong kasamang mga sakit katulad ng diabetes, hypertension, asthma or COPD, sakit sa baga ay maganda na talaga na ilipat itong mga pasyenteng ito sa ating intermediate treatment and monitoring facilities ‘no. Ito iyong mga intermediate facilities, na ito naman ay ginastusan ng ating gobyerno para talagang maihiwalay at ma-isolate ang may sakit na COVID at sila ay matulungan magkaroon ng testing at treatment ng kanilang impeksiyon at hangga’t sila ay gumaling matapos ang dalawang linggo o higit pa, depende sa kanilang clinical picture.

So iyan po ay sinusuportahan po natin iyan na talagang ilipat sa atin pong mga temporary treatment and monitoring facilities.

At gusto ko rin po sanang gamitin ang pagkakataon na ito na lilinawin ko lang po iyong aking statement kanina patungkol doon sa nasabi ko doon sa Pre-SONA on flattening the curve ‘no. Iyon pong atin kasing case doubling time noong Abril ay dumaan doon sa tinatawag nating three-day doubling time. Ngayon naman, July 15, ito po ay humaba na, iyong ating case doubling time to eight days ‘no. Ito po ay lumampas na doon sa ating 7-day doubling time. Ang ibig kong sabihin dito ay nasimulan po natin na-iliko o nai-kurba iyong epidemic curve in April after the imposition of the ECQ noong March 17.

But now, we are seeing an increase in cases dahil po sa expanded testing capacity natin and community transmission ay nangyayari po ngayon, increased community transmission, as we allow more movement of people dahil nagluwag po tayo ng mga restrictions. At this is expected as we open up the economy and lift our community quarantine measures. And this has been the experience of the following countries with strict lockdown then they observed cases began to increase after they released ‘no: Ito iyong Israel, higher than the first peak; mayroon din iyong Iran, higher than the first peak; ang Serbia, pareho sa kaniyang first peak; samantala ang Japan recorded 200 cases.

What is important is to maintain the cases at manageable levels ‘no. Iyon po iyong aking gustong bigyang linaw – levels that the system and our healthcare workers are not overwhelmed. And of course, time and again, we encourage and we remind everyone to practice the minimum health protocols to contain the spread of the virus.

So paumanhin lang po ako doon sa confusion na naidulot ng aking earlier statement, medyo nalito lang po ako doon sa tanong. Marami pong salamat.

USEC. IGNACIO: Can we have CabSec. Nograles, please?

CABSEC. NOGRALES: Yes. Actually, idadagdag ko lang doon sa sinabi na rin ni Sec. Año at ni Sec. Duque ano, kasama naman po ito sa ating health protocols. So kagaya ng sinabi ni Secretary Año at Secretary Duque, siyempre kung hindi po mag-fit sa criteria for home isolation ay kailangan ihatid po natin through the Oplan Kalinga, sunduin natin at ihatid po natin doon sa isolation centers natin.

Anyway, doon sa isolation centers, nandoon naman iyong mga health workers natin. Aalagaan natin iyong ating mga ina-isolate doon, of course, kasama iyong pag-monitor, kasama iyong treatment, kasama iyong pagbigay ng masustansiyang pagkain. At karamihan sa mga isolation centers natin ay may free WiFi pa. And then, of course, mamu-monitor natin sila, ang progress nila para mas mapabilis ang pagpapagaling natin sa kanila at ma-reintegrate din natin sila muli. At ayon na rin doon sa mga health protocols na sinasabi rin ng WHO na maging ang mild and pre-symptomatic na mga COVID cases ay maaaring dalhin natin sa mga isolation centers natin for close monitoring at para ma-isolate din natin sila sa community.

So iyon lang, iyong health protocols, at sinusuportahan naman ito ng ating mga alkalde. Nakipag-ugnayan na tayo sa mga Metro Manila LGUs, mga mayors. In fact, some mayors have already coordinated with the national government, at sinusuportahan naman nila iyong Oplan Kalinga.

At kagaya ng sinabi ni Secretary Año, maging doon sa Visayas, sa Cebu, at maging sa iba’t ibang mga LGUs, alam naman nila itong health protocols po natin.

USEC. IGNACIO: Okay. Thank you, Mela. Thank you, Secretary Nograles. Maraming salamat din po sa ating mga naging speakers for today. Maraming salamat po sa inyong panahon.

We would like to invite everyone to tune-in next Wednesday, July 22, 2020, for another Pre-SONA Virtual Presser featuring the security, justice and peace cluster. Please follow our social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more updates.

Again, maraming salamat po sa ating media participants for joining in today’s virtual presser. Until next week po, maraming salamat po sa inyo – ako po si Usec. Rocky Ignacio.

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Source: PCOO-NIB (News and Information Bureau)