Sen. Grace Poe on Friday (May 29) praised the private sector’s early action in the fight against the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) amid what was described as the Duterte administration’s slow response in key areas.
“Honestly, I think it was the private sector that acted immediately when this happened,” Poe said during an online seminar on the role that public private partnerships play in economic recovery as the COVID-19 crisis unfolds.
“It was through the private sector’s efforts that we had mass testing immediately. Even the quarantine sites were set up by many private sector groups,” Poe said.
She also cited the quick procurement of life-saving personal protective equipment (PPE) needed by those on the frontline, especially health care workers.
“Even donations of the PPEs came from the private sector initially,” Poe said.
Government spending is typically covered by strict procurement guidelines. Poe, who has been critical of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III’s leadership and joined other senators seeking his resignation, said government-bought PPEs arrived much later.
“Before that, you had different companies converting their factories to producing frontline necessities that are still being used until today,” she said.
“We really also thank the private sector for their efforts because, frankly, without your support, the government could definitely not have done or achieved what it has at this point,” Poe said.
The remarks come days before the government moves to ease strict quarantine measures in Metro Manila.
This is despite a spike in COVID-19 infections as of Thursday, which saw 539 new cases mainly in the capital district for a total of 15,588, according to the Department of Health. Deaths due to COVID-19 hit 921 while recoveries were 3,598, the DOH said.
The private sector’s COVID-19 response came from businesses large and small and included donation drives started by individuals.
Referring to the government’s sometimes cumbersome decision-making process, Poe noted that “obviously, the private sector moves quickly compared to the government.”
President Rodrigo Duterte himself acknowledged the role of the private sector in fighting the spread of COVID-19 when, earlier this month, he apologized to the Zobel family and businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan.
Duterte earlier threatened to jail them over supposed onerous provisions in their decades-old water concessions in Metro Manila. The Zobels are shareholders of Manila Water Co. Inc. while Pangilinan’s group is the controlling shareholder of Maynilad Water Services Inc.
Edited by TSB
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