Press Release
April 8, 2020

Agenda interview of Senator Win Gatchalian with Cito Beltran on COVID-19's political and operational issues

[start recording]

SEN WIN: Good morning Cito, good morning to our listeners.

Q: First of all, how are you doing Senator? How's everything on your end? Are you home quarantined because of the ECQ or are you home quarantined because of exposure?

SEN WIN: Well just to give you a bit of a history, I was exposed to a COVID patient or COVID infected person in one of our hearings a few weeks back and then I was under self-quarantine and got tested and the test came out negative. So, after that I went out and went back to Valenzuela to observe what's happening and also see what we should do on the ground cause ang paniniwala ko Cito, this virus can be fought, home by home, house by house, street by street, barangay by barangay, LGU by LGU. If we can contain the virus in every house, or in every street or in every barangay, hindi na aabot yung virus or hindi na aabot yung pasyente sa ating mga ospital. So that the hospitals will not be overwhelmed and we will keep our capacity intact. The LGUs play a very big role in this fight. In fact, the LGU play one of the very important role not only in the city or municipality level but all the way down to the barangay level cause we're talking about hundreds or even thousands of PUI's and PUM's and potential COVID patients on the ground.

Q: Okay from what you've seen and what you've heard and what you've read. What are your thoughts on COVID-19 and what do you think should be done because if you know or if you've heard medyo tinitira yung mga Senador. Sinasbihan na "ano ginagawa niyo, nasaan ka Mr. Senator, where's your money, etc." and you know I guess it comes with the job, it comes with the reputation. What's your reaction to all of this?

SEN WIN: Well, this is not the right time to criticize one another and to hurl insults to one another because a lot of our Senators and legislators for that matter, congressmen, councilors and senators, they're all doing their part in terms of helping, in terms of bayanihan. Marami sa kanila, they're doing their jobs quietly and they're donations quietly without any fun fare. What is important right now is to give and not to propel your name because of COVID. Having said that, Cito, I've been observing here in Valenzuela, what's happening at ang pinaka importante ngayon Cito and I really have to put a lot of emphasis, is the testing. The next two-week extension is our last chance of curbing the spread of the virus. Last chance because from what I hear from our constituents, they cannot take in another extension because of economic and financial reasons. In fact kahapon lang Cito may kausap kaming mga, mga middle class na ito ah, subdivisions natin, at sinasabi nila nauubusan na sila ng savings. Nauubusan na sila ng buffer in terms of savings. Meaning they're rouse spending because they don't have income. Some of them are entrepreneurs, some of them they have their own businesses and yung naipon nila for the past few years ay nagagamit na nila because they have to sustain it to their households, not only to their immediate family but also to their employees and to their other households. And that's my biggest fear, when the middle class is already saying "nauubusan na kami ng savings" what more our poor constituents na wala naman silang savings.

So in the next two weeks, it's our last chance and the biggest intervention in the next two weeks should be mass testing at the ground level. I'll give you a very specific example, Cito, there is close to 500 PUI's, PUM's here in Valenzuela and yesterday I went to our command center, minomonitor namin lahat yan. As the number increases, the government resources are being spread out stilly, we don't have enough manpower to monitor later on so what we need to do now is to test all 500 and to see sino ba doon ang negative sino ba doon ang positive. So, Valenzuela by tomorrow will be undertaking our localized testing, we bought our own test kits, we partnered with Medical City for the processing of those test kits. Our strategy is to test all of those 500, isolate the ones who are positive, treat the ones who are positive and concentrate on those positive. So ang importante ngayon yung government resources natin will be focused on that positive COVID patients.

Q: You've always been a proactive legislator, given all our discoveries, we're not discovering the value of our frontliners, nurses, doctors, etc. We are now discovering the major role of barangay tanods. My thoughts are, what would you be doing in terms of legislation kasi umaasa tayo as barangay tanods. We rely on barangay tanods to enforce the ECQ but we've never really, as a nation, invested on barangay tanods. It reminds me of our MMDA traffic enforcers, many years ago parang utusan lang yung mga yan, sinisigawan, disrespected but through the years they we're required to have educational background certificates, they we're given training. So now we respect them because they earned the respect with training and certificate. Yung sa barangay tanod, what are your thoughts on this and also regarding the compensation of nurses, not just in the public hospitals but private hospitals?

SEN WIN: That's a very good question and a very good issue you pointed Cito because I heard Dr. Herbosa mentioning earlier that it's important that we curb this at a local level. General Galvez also said the same thing and to curb this at a local level you need the enforcement all the way down to the barangays. Dito talaga malaki ang role ng ating mga barangay officials, especially the tanods because if they can enforce the ECQ in the local level, meaning walang lalabas, lalabas lang pag bibili ng pagkain, bibili ng gamot. If they can now make sure that everyone stays home, kasi marami talaga ang matitigas ang ulo, but if the barangay can make everyone stays home that would be the best case for us. And in order for us to implement the ECQ, they are also exposed. Nasabi ko kanina maraming PUM's, PUI's in our local communities and it's very difficult to detect who are they, sino ba nai-infect nila. Kaya yung mga barangay tanods natin, yung mga officials natin are also frontliners who are exposed to these potential patients.

Q: So will you be proposing legislation for future training or salary increases?

SEN WIN: I think the most important here is to capacitate our barangay tanods in all types of disasters. Kasi kabisado nila yung for example, kung may sunog o meron baha pero itong ganitong pandemic is really something new for them and I think one of the most important learnings that we caught here in Valenzuela is, not only to give hazard pay, the usual salaries to our barangays or the usual allowances but also make sure that they are capacitated, alam nila ang gagawin nila, they have the equipment in doing so and the most important is to protect their families also because their families are also exposed when they're exposed.

[end recording]

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