Legarda lauds frontliners one year after lockdown started, calls for strengthened implementation of health protocols

March 16, 2021

Three-term Senator, now Deputy Speaker, Loren Legarda today paid tribute to those who tirelessly worked in the frontlines of the ongoing battle against COVID-19, as the country marked one year since the imposition of lockdown and community quarantines to help curb the spread of the virus. For Legarda, these frontliners include doctors, nurses, health workers, policemen and members of the armed forces, the utility staff, those working in groceries and retail, food and cargo delivery drivers, fisherfolk and farmers, market vendors, journalists, security personnel, the OFWs, and the dedicated government workers, both at the national and local levels.

“It has been a year since lockdowns were imposed due to the pandemic and these restrictions have gravely affected many aspects of our lives. Our invisible enemy has claimed thousands of lives, has affected the health of our people, and our very own frontliners were not spared. Yet they continue to render their service under tremendous stress and danger despite knowing that they are exposing themselves to the threat of the virus,” Legarda said.

“I salute our country’s frontliners for their sacrifices and unparalleled contribution in our fight against COVID-19. They have helped the public survive and our communities to thrive amidst this pandemic as they courageously performed their duties to provide the essential services that we need in these trying times,” Legarda added.

Having to answer to the call of duty while putting their physical, mental and social well-being at risk, these frontliners themselves should also be given assistance to and cared for. Legarda said that the government should recognize their steadfast commitment and courage by intensifying assistance programs and addressing their distress calls as they continue to devote their time, energy, and safety for the general public.

The three-term Senator co-authored Republic Act No. 11494 or the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, which provides a P165 billion pandemic response fund that will be used to save the economy and protect health care workers. According to the Department of Health, while Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, for which Legarda voted in favor of the passage, provided frontliners with personal protective equipment, accommodations, and risk allowances, among other benefits, as well as for the recruitment of additional health workers, the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act focused on further equipping health system and healthcare workers assistance, such as allocation for temporary medical isolation and quarantine facilities, field hospitals, and expansion of government hospital capacity all over the country; accommodations, transportation, and meals of healthcare workers; free life insurance; and compensation for healthcare workers who gets infected while performing their duties, among others.

Legarda also welcomed the prioritization of the frontliners in the roll-out of the national vaccination program, saying that they need this protection the most.

Moreover, Legarda encouraged the general public to support the frontliners in carrying out their duties by observing proper health protocols and safety measures. Legarda also reiterated government advisories on proper hand washing, social distancing, and other public health safety measures [1]:

• Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
• Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, if soap and water are not available.
• Cover one’s mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing and sneezing.
• Dispose tissue in a waste can.
• Maintain distance at least three (3) meters from individuals manifesting with flu-like symptoms.
• Adhere to local advisories and cooperate with the local public health authorities
• Disinfect home and work equipment daily.
• If one exhibits symptoms of COVID-19, such as cough, cold, fever and sore throat, seek appropriate medical care immediately and stay at home. Avoid close contact with other people around.
• If one or any family members living with in the same residence has travelled and visited countries afflicted by the disease, go on a 14-day self-quarantine.
• Municipal mayors shall direct the Punong Barangays to ensure that the functions of Barangay Health Workers are properly implemented, especially in terms of monitoring clustering pneumonia/flu-like cases in their respective barangays and report immediately to the Health Office.
• All barangays shall conduct daily clean up and disinfection of their barangay halls.
• Private establishments, such as hotels, inns, resorts, restaurants, coffee shops, malls, banks, hospitals, markets and terminals shall follow protocols on disinfection and prevention of COVID-19 transmission. Thermal thermometers should be used to determine if a client is febrile or not. Alcohol and sanitizers should be made available to the public.

“For us to be able to survive this pandemic, we have to work as one. We have to give importance to the sacrifices of our frontliners as they continue to risk their lives. Let us do our part to arrest the spread of the virus. Despite the arrival of the vaccines, we cannot afford to be complacent, or else, local transmission will surge once again. Convergence of the public, private sectors and the academe and a whole of nation approach is much needed for us to achieve a sustainable, inclusive and equitable growth and recovery,” Legarda concluded.***

[1] https://doh.gov.ph/COVID-19/FAQs