House to unite Pinoys in prayer

Martin Romualdez

THE House of Representatives led by Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, and House Minority Leader and Manila Rep. Bienvenido Abante on Thursday urged President Rodrigo Duterte to declare this Sunday as a National Day of Prayer so all Filipinos could unite in prayer as a means to combat the outbreak of coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19).

In a letter sent to President Duterte that Cayetano, Romualdez, and Abante signed, they said the House of Representatives fully
supports the President’s call for prayer as a means to combat the COVID-19 virus and urged him to declare a National Day of Prayer.

"Pray to the Almighty God in granting our frontliners wisdom,
protection and compassion; our leaders wisdom and discernment; and all Filipinos cooperation and resilience. Together, we can overcome this adversity,” the said Cayetano.

“Prayer is very powerful and effective to battle COVID-19. Our conversation with God will bring peace and joy to our hearts in this
time of global health crisis,” said Romualdez, who chairs the powerful House committee on rules.

"History, however, has shown that the Filipino people have always overcome the challenges confronting them with resolve and faith," pointed out Abante, who is also a pastor and the founder of the Metropolitan Bible Baptist Church and Ministries.

In a related development, Iloilo Rep. Janette Loreto-Garin, a former Health secretary, said prioritizing symptomatic patients in testing
for COVID-19 would help curb the dreaded disease instead of those who are asymptomatic.

“With COVID-19, infectivity is directly related to severity. Mas malala ang sintomas, mas makakahawa.  If we prioritize symptomatic
patients, mas maaga nating makikilala Ang mga pasyenteng positibo. Mas maaga ding magagawa ng DOH at DILG ang contact tracing. Direct
contacts of COVID patients can isolate themselves and reduce transmission to others. Mas konti ang exposed; mas maagang maasikaso
Ang COVID patients; may posibilidad na halos walang mamatay dahil makakapagbigay ang mga doctor ng proper management sa pasyente,” said Garin.

House Deputy Minority leader and Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate said the Duterte administration "should seriously
rethink its plan to borrow funds to combat COVID-19 as there are enough available financing sources in the 2020 national budget without
burying further the Filipinos in debt."

Zarate issued the statement as the Duterte administration announced that it will be borrowing some $1 billion or around P51 billion to combat the novel coronavirus pandemic.

He said the amount is on top of the P27.1-billion package previously announced by the economic team.

The Philippines has already secured a $3-million grant (P45 million) from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the World Bank has also earmarked a $100-million (P520 million) fast-track loan to the
Philippines to enable the Department of Health (DoH) to procure personal protective equipment for health care workers, along with
testing and laboratory materials, quarantine areas, isolation rooms, and other essential equipment.

House Deputy Majority Leader and Bagong Henerasyon (BH) party-list Rep. Bernadette Herrera has urged the government to buy food from
commissaries and kitchens of restaurants to be distributed to the poorest communities, which, she said, would also help the restaurant
industry that is now reeling from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Marami sa mga restaurant ang napilitang magsara pansamantala habang nasa ilalim ng enhanced community quarantine ang buong Luzon. These
restaurants are stocked up on food, and instead of putting them to waste, I am calling on the government to take the initiative to buy food from these restaurants, which we can distribute to the poorest communities in Luzon," Herrera said.

"Marami din sa ating mga kababayan ngayon na 'no work, no pay' ang nangangamba kung saan na sila kukuha ng pambili ng pagkain para sa
kanilang mga pamilya. This way, we are not only ensuring that there's food for underprivileged Filipino families, we are also extending help
to restaurant owners who are now crippled by the coronavirus outbreak," she added.