March 28, 2020

As the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act is expected to expedite the implementation of measures to address the COVID-19 pandemic in the country, the National Economic and Development Authority is now preparing a plan to rebuild business and consumer confidence and avoid a prolonged economic recession.

NEDA said the Bayanihan Act, recently signed by President Rodrigo Duterte, is aligned with the World Health Organization’s guidelines for preventing the further transmission of COVID-19 through “effective education, detection, protection, and treatment”. “This law enables the government to act swiftly in identifying programs and targeted measures, together with sources of funds that can be quickly disbursed,” said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia.

“As part of the Inter-agency Task Force, we are hoping to contribute substantially to the National Action Plan,” Pernia said.

He said that NEDA is committed to collaborate with the Department of Budget and Management, Department of Finance, and government line agencies in putting together a holistic package and mobilizing resources for such.

As the country’s socioeconomic planning agency, NEDA released a report assessing and addressing the social and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Tuesday, March 24. The report presents a three-phased program of interventions. Pernia said the enactment of the Bayanihan law is a welcome move to fast-track the implementation of measures especially in the first phase.

Phase 1a is clinical and medical response to rising COVID-19 cases. Pernia said this has to move very quickly. The Bayanihan Act fast-tracks the accreditation of testing kits needed for early detection, diagnosis, and more widespread testing. It also ensures COVID-19 treatment coverage under the National Health Insurance Program, especially of the public and private health workers.

For Phase 1b: public health response, the Act ensures that the local government units are implementing within the set standards of community quarantine.

“Related to work suspension to reduce possible disease transmission, the government recognizes that the poor and marginalized are the ones most affected by this crisis. The Bayanihan Act enables the government to provide emergency subsidy to around 18 million low-income households for two months to help address the impact of loss of income and employment,” the Cabinet official added.

Alongside this, an expanded and enhanced Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program will be implemented to give households the capacity to purchase basic food and essential items during the community quarantine.

For Phase 1c: short-term augmentation of health systems capacity, temporary human resources for health will be deployed to complement or supplement the existing health workforce. Under the Bayanihan Act, procurement of the highly needed supplies, equipment, and other resources to be determined by the Department of Health and relevant government agencies will also be expedited.

Quarantine centers, temporary medical facilities, and medical relief and aid distribution centers will be prioritized in the allocation of resources.

Pernia said that actions need to be well coordinated and geared towards protecting people and ensuring economic recovery. NEDA is poised to elaborate on the measures specifically under phase 2 and phase 3.

“NEDA will continue to monitor the situation. Once the spread of the disease is contained and it becomes safe to resume operations, an economic recovery plan must be quickly set in motion. Through joint efforts, we will define a new normal state of the economic activity that is more prepared and resilient not only to this kind of pandemic but also to climate change,” Pernia said. “Accordingly, we will update our development plans and investment programs to be responsive to the needs of the country and its people, both in the short term and in the medium to long term,” he said.

“As our nation moves forward through these challenging times, we enjoin everyone from the public sector and the private sector, which includes the for-profit firms and civil societty, to contribute in whatever way possible in flattening the curve of COVID-19’s spread and live up to the Filipino spirit of Bayanihan,” said Pernia. “The Bayanihan spirit is truly alive in Filipinos as many individual volunteers are now sincerely engaged. Let that Bayanihan curve spike quickly as we flatten the COVID-19 curve,” he added.


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