PRRD urged to designate Dominguez as Covid-19 crisis manager

 Albay Rep. Joey Salceda on Wednesday urged President Rodrigo Duterte to designate Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez as overall coronavirus disease (Covid-19) crisis manager to make the government’s response more holistic and coordinated.

Salceda, chairman of the House and Ways Committee, said Dominguez, as head of the Economic Development Cluster of the Cabinet, already has supervision over “nearly every facet” of pandemic response, from vaccine procurement through the Government Procurement Policy Board, to testing and isolation, to monetary and fiscal policy.

“This is the most challenging socioeconomic crisis we have dealt with in decades. I can think of no other person who already has the mandate, the gravitas, and the experience than Secretary Sonny Dominguez,” Salceda said. “Secretary Dominguez even oversees the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Trade and Industry as cluster head. This is critical as we face a food price hike and supply chain issues.”

Salceda said Dominguez has the private sector experience and network necessary to mobilize Philippine industry.

“He was a top business executive during the Asian Financial Crisis. He knows how to deal with a crisis of this magnitude. He has the experience needed to negotiate our vaccine procurement agreement. Most importantly, he has the respect of government leaders, including the President. So, he can candidly tell everyone what really needs to be done,” Salceda said.

Salceda said, at this stage, mass testing will remain critical to preventing any further outbreaks.

“We have to break through the 100,000 mark and do so consistently with testing. That way, we can prevent further undetected infections. You have around 0.4 percent completely asymptomatic cases daily, and around 97-99 percent are mild cases, so it’s very hard to notice unless we test more,” Salceda said.

He said testing is the “trial-run” for mass vaccination. “If we can’t test more daily, we can’t vaccinate more. It requires basically the same set of capabilities, from storage, logistics, transport of patients, data analysis and records keeping, to administration by qualified health care workers,” he said. 

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