STRONGER NATIONAL, LOCAL GOV’T COLLABORATION NEEDED TO MANAGE RISKS AND PROTECT THE POOR AMID THE PANDEMIC – NEDA

The national and local government need to continue working together to manage risks and roll out the COVID-19 vaccines, said the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

“Our actions today will have a tremendous impact on the economy in the future. I think we are in a unique position right now to make a lasting difference in the actions that we do. We in the national government will continue to support everyone, including San Juan City,” said Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua during the San Juan City COVID-19 Coordinated Operations to Defeat Epidemic Team Visit on February 10, 2021.

He also congratulated San Juan City Mayor Francis Zamora and the local government for its efforts to manage the COVID-19 infections in the city. Mayor Zamora shared that the first local transmission in the Philippines was detected in San Juan back in March 2020. Since then, the local government unit (LGU) has proactively managed the risks and as of February 7, 2021, there are only 31 active cases in the city.

In addition, the LGU has already put in place their local vaccination plan, with more than 23,000 of its residents and healthcare workers already registered to receive the vaccine. Several other local government units are also preparing their local vaccination programs in coordination with the Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases. Meanwhile, the national government will roll out the national vaccination program this month.

The NEDA Chief added that as the Cabinet Member assigned to San Juan through the CODE initiative by the IATF on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, he is always ready to help and support the city.

The CODE initiative was directed through Resolution No. 62 by the IATF on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to strengthen the collaboration between the national government and the local government units in ensuring a people-centered approach in addressing the concerns and issues around COVID-19 response and recovery. 

“Plans and programs, whether by the national government, local government units, businesses, and civil society, affect the lives of Filipinos and so everyone must always try to do better. Our goal is to save lives. We now know how to live with the virus and not get sick–by wearing masks, frequently washing hands, and practicing social distancing. The tradeoff is not between health and economy but between COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 threats, such as hunger, poverty, and other diseases,” said Chua.

“There are also many people who are in need of income so that they can avail of treatments, like dialysis, and other treatments. We also need to help people to commute to work and find jobs,” added Chua.

The November 2020 survey of the Social Weather Stations also shows that Metro Manila has the highest incidence of hunger at 23.3 percent, or almost a quarter of the capital region’s population. This translates to about 780,000 families. On the other hand, in areas outside the National Capital Region, which are mostly under a more relaxed form of community quarantine, it is lesser— 16 percent in Mindanao (est. 909,00 families), 14.4 percent in Balance Luzon (est. 1.6 million families), and 14.3 percent in the Visayas (est. 674,000 families)

“Prolonged hunger can take away years of productivity, and sometimes this is passed on to children and grandchildren. So this cycle of poverty can affect generations to come,” the Cabinet official said.

“We are working very hard to manage the risk and see how it can be balanced better. My fear is the effect on the people, especially the poor. The scarring can be permanent,” he added.

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