Sotto to gov’t: Use idle funds for free mass COVID-19 tests
MANILA, Philippines — With funds “just lying idly and put to waste” amid the pandemic, Senate President Vicente Sotto III proposed that such funds be used for the free COVID-19 testing of all Filipinos.
“Given that we are investigating on COVID-related procurement, let us explore the possibility as well of providing free COVID tests to all Filipinos. While the government is much devoted to COVID-19 vaccines, our COVID-19 testing has been somewhat being neglected,” Sotto said at the resumption of the Senate blue ribbon committee hearing on Wednesday.
The committee is looking into the Department of Health’s (DOH) handling of pandemic funds that were earlier flagged by state auditors.
”Congress has been working hard on the country’s budget to ensure that the needs of our people will be addressed. And it is very disheartening to see that much-needed funds are just lying idly and put to waste especially that we are in the middle of a crisis. Maybe these funds could instead be allocated for the free mass testing and help save lives,” Sotto added.
He said many Filipinos opt not to get tested for CIVID-19 because of the test’s expensive price.
“I personally know some who opted not to be tested because they would rather spend their money on food and other necessities than on testing,” he added.
“Evidently, the daily tally of cases does not reflect the actual number of people infected with the COVID-19 virus. Corollary to this, the contact tracing, as a preventive measure to the further spread of the virus, will come to naught,” he added.
Sotto then stressed the importance of “effective and efficient” spending of the government’s budget.
“Logically, improving government spending will improve lives,” he said.
Senator Richard Gordon, chairman of the blue ribbon committee, agrees with Sotto.
“Testing must really be free…meron lang tayong inuna (na i-test) katulad na mga doktor, mga senior citizens, pero dapat libre talaga yan,” said Gordon, who is also the chairman of the Philippine Red Cross.
“Dapat umpisahan na kaagad yan,” Gordon added.
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.