Robredo calls for assistance, alternatives for vulnerable sectors amid quarantine

MANILA — Vice President Leni Robredo in a video released on Tuesday evening, March 17 called for more social safety nets for the poorest Filipinos affected by a month of quarantine. 

The vice president appealed to the private sector to provide meals and financial aid to affected barangays and communities.

Robredo backed the strategy of social distancing to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) but called attention to those who would be left vulnerable by the tactic, including low-wage earners and senior citizens. 

“Protect the vulnerable. I’m one with President Duterte’s call to observe social distancing, but we cannot leave the poor behind,” she said in Filipino.

She also called for a “whole of society” approach against the virus.

“Social distancing measure require huge sacrifices, but it will only be effective if everyone abides by it,” Robredo added.

The vice president also reiterated a number of recommendations she made in an earlier address, including:

• Benefits, cash transfers and pension for those in need 

• Providing basic needs such as sanitation items and supplies for food banks, especially for poorer communities

• Providing financial assistance to indigent citizens losing income and affected by quarantine measures, among others 

• Clearer information on public hospitals that capable of accepting those with severe symptoms

• Expediting the process of releasing testing kits developed by local scientists

• Natonal government setting up temporary isolation facilities 

• Acquiring more protective equipment for over 2,400 health workers working the frontlines against the new pathogen

Robredo called for a clearer flow of information from the administration so as not to cause panic. 

She said her office will distribute over P11.4 million worth of funds to aid the government’s response and gather P17.3 million in donations.

The Department of Labor and Employment has said that regular workers could be hired to disinfect school and government buildings, while others could use their leave credits for the quarantine.

As of this writing, there are a total of 187 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country after the Department of Health confirmed 45 new patients.  

“We respond to the worst of times with the best of ourselves,” she said. “We Filipinos who can hurdle this trial.” 

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