Press Release
March 16, 2020

Dispatch from Crame No. 738:
Sen. Leila M. de Lima on the Imperatives under our Current COVID-19 Crisis Situation


As they say, we have no choice but to bite the bullet.

Although the blame for this public health disaster falls squarely on Duterte for being more concerned about China's feelings than the clamor of his own countrymen to shut the country's ports of entry to China as early as the middle of January, what should have been a lead time of two months has been wasted, and we are now left with no choice but to deal with Duterte's traitorous lack of concern for Filipino lives.

Because of the non-stop entry since January of thousands of possible COVID19-infected Chinese from the mainland - tourists, workers and PLA soldiers disguised as both - the COVID19 virus has now infected more than 100 of our countrymen and killed almost a dozen. This is the cost of voting for and tolerating a traitor that holds no allegiance to any other country but to China and to no other people but the mainland Chinese.

Be that as it may, we now have to deal with these ourselves. Beyond the checkpoints and the military's praetorian presence in the next 30 days in our lives, we should not lose sight of the more important requirements to combat the virus. These are: a fully-equipped health force, complete and absolute support to our medical professionals and health workers, and efficient delivery of health and medical logistics to our hospitals, both public and private.

The soldiers' M16s might be there to falsely reassure us that Duterte is on top of the situation. But he is not. From the very start, he was not, not because he could not, but because he did not want to.

The soldiers' bullets cannot kill the virus, only the skill of our doctors and nurses can. Then it is also just a matter of time before the soldiers themselves start getting infected, and that is when we will realize that the real arena of battle in this fight is not out there in the provincial frontiers, but inside our hospitals and our communities. Here, the doctors and health workers will be our soldiers.

But as our health force starts to respond to every case of the dreadful disease, we must also make sure that our borders are secure from further infection from the outside, especially China. Any remaining flights from that country should be completely banned, something that should have been done two months ago when the first signals of a global pandemic began to arise from Wuhan as its residents started to spread the virus throughout the world, even while bodies already started falling in that city.

The next plausible solution of course is self-quarantine for everyone. But even the framework of this NCR lockdown does not fully take that into account. In the next 30 days, workers will still go to the factories where they will work in close quarters, and employees will still interact with each other in their air-conditioned offices. These are not positive environments for prevention. In fact, they are veritable conditions for infection and spread of the virus.

This is why preparing our health force for the worst should be the first order of the day. If this disaster is going to be on the same scale as Italy is now undergoing, our medical facilities should be expanded and our health force reassured that they will get all that they will need, both from the government and the private sector.

Nothing personal, but Sec. Duque seems to inspire little confidence, if at all, as he is perceived to be more of a politician rather than a health administrator or medical professional. This was all too clear when he failed to act immediately, deferring instead to his principal's pro-China proclivities. He needs to redeem himself and his institution, after Duterte has tarnished DOH's good name for his love for the Chinese President.

Nakakaawa na daw ang Pangulo, sabi ng mga DDS trolls? How dare they tell us that! ###

(Access the handwritten copy of Dispatch from Crame No. 738, here:

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