By Deighton Acuin


Vice President Leni Robredo on Sunday presented a list of suggestions anew to help the country to deal with the surging COVID-19 cases, including the rollout of coronavirus vaccines to inoculate healthcare workers.

On her Facebook page, Robredo posted her list providing ways on how the government could improve in its COVID-19 response.

“Our problem at hand is huge. We have to deal with this collectively. Huwag sana masamain ang suggestions,” she said.

During her weekly radio show, she also questioned the readiness of the government for vaccine deployment following the delivery of doses from China-based Sinovac Biotech and British drugmaker AstraZeneca.

Granular lockdowns

Several barangays in Metro Manila have been put under granular lockdowns as the country’s COVID-cases surged to 7,999 on Saturday alone.

According to Robredo, this equates to a 15.7 percent positivity rate and a 2.03 reproduction number which both figures have way above the target of less than five percent for positive rate and below 1 for reproduction number.

“I hope we are doing massive testing, contact tracing and isolation especially in areas that are on surgical lockdowns,” the vice president said, noting that lockdowns will mean nothing without testing, tracing, and treating.

Vaccination program

Meanwhile, Robredo urged the government to improve its vaccination program.

Quoting the Department of Health (DOH), Robredo said that from March 1 to 17, only 269,583 health frontliners were inoculated. That represents only 23.95 percent of the available vaccines from Sinovac and AstraZeneca. 

The average of 15,857 per day will not be enough to reach herd immunity, or the vaccination of more than 70 million Filipinos, by December.

Herd immunity

Robredo said the government’s target is rightfully to vaccinate 70 percent of its entire population.

However, with a 73,500,000 target for herd immunity, Robredo stressed that the government must inoculate an average of 256,993 people per day for the next 286 remaining days in 2021.

“We are so far off the target at the rate we are going now,” she said.

Herd immunity happens when the virus can’t spread in a community because it keeps on encountering people who are protected against the virus.

Logistical issues

The Vice President countered the claim of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III that they cannot rush the vaccination among health workers “because the hospital will lose its staff if they will be inoculated simultaneously.”

She added although the problem is the supply chain, the government should maximize the use of available vaccines on hand.

“This is what we have been asking since last year: prepare the deployment plan, treat it as a logistics problem, identify and train vaccinators, prepare large vaccination centers that will make possible a more efficient rollout,” she said.

“Pero yung konting supply na dumating sa atin, hindi pa natin ma deploy with speed and dispatch. Let us assess where the bottlenecks are. 1M pa lang supply natin, pero in 17 days hindi pa nga tayo naka 50 percent utilization, papaano na kung 70M na yung available?” Robredo asked.

Regulating private sectors

Robredo stressed the big help offered by private sectors but noted the government should not “over-regulate” such.

While bigger firms can accommodate a demand for over 50 percent of their purchase to the government, smaller businesses have a harder time with their regulation.

The same measure should be also done for local governments that want to vaccinate their constituents. There are needs to “capacitate and help them,” according to Robredo.

“Let us not make it difficult for private companies to participate,” Robredo said.

“But for smaller businesses who only want to make their employees safe para makapag bukas na ng negosyo, huwag na natin masyadong pahirapan pa.”

“There are best practices already available. Indonesia and India are among the countries who are allowing private sector to participate. Okay naman to have rules and parameters, (but hopefully) don’t make it too difficult for them. After all, for every Filipino who gets the vaccine, the entire community benefits,” Robredo added.


The financial assistance given to low-income families in April last year is not enough, the vice president stressed, adding that a “stimulus package” similar to what Malaysia has done is needed. 

When Malaysia started to reopen its economy, the cases surged, too. However, “they were able to arrest the situation.”

Among the many things Malaysia has done is to provide six stimulus packages for their citizens. 

In the past, the Duterte administration claimed that Robredo is politicizing the issues while the vice president’s camp noted that the administration resorts to name-calling whenever she makes suggestions.

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