Press Release
July 29, 2020


More Filipinos are expected to have equal access to the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test with the adoption of Sen. Grace Poe's amendment to the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act.

Poe's pitch for wider use of the more accurate COVID-19 test as well her proposal for assistance to jeepney drivers and creative industry workers, and improvements in digital connectivity have been incorporated in the bill approved by the Senate on third and final reading, which lays down the government's response and recovery interventions amid the pandemic.

"Rich or poor, everyone should have a right to life-saving interventions in the midst of this pandemic," Poe stressed.

Poe notes that people in geographically isolated or highly populated and depressed areas shall be provided the same level of access to COVID-19 testing.

"People should have access to swab tests so that they will have peace of mind knowing they are not infected, or cannot spread the virus to those they come in contact with. Or, in case they are found positive, they can get the medical attention needed and take necessary steps not to infect others," she added.

Poe's amendments also pushed for more COVID-19 testing centers that provide affordable and accessible testing to the public. Under the measure, the cost of testing shall be covered by the National Health Insurance Program of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp.

There should also be intensified hiring of skilled medical technologists, molecular biologists, and other skilled laboratory technicians to conduct COVID-19 testing to achieve an ideal personnel-to-laboratory ratio.

Addressing the needs of disadvantaged sectors, Poe made sure that the Bayanihan bill would guarantee that there will be no phaseout of the traditional public utility jeepneys, which could push the drivers and their families deeper into poverty.

The Department of Transportation is also directed to provide for digital fare vouchers in addition to fuel subsidy grants. It is also tasked to provide a masterlist of qualified transport workers to implement the wage subsidies and cash-for-work program, coordinate accelerated distribution of the first and second rounds of subsidy under Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, and facilitate the service contracting of public utility vehicles.

At the same time, Poe sought the inclusion of cash assistance for displaced workers in the creative industry.

"When it comes to the entertainment industry, there should be some sort of subsidy for them and I know that the Senate President has mentioned the importance of culture and the arts, that we may not lose our soul amidst this pandemic," she said

The senator also included a provision that ensures undernourished children will have access to free, healthy meals, regardless of the chosen learning modality, under the government's school-based feeding program.

News Latest News Feed