Drilon says Philippines needs 130,000 contact tracers, not 130,000 trolls

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The Department of Health (DOH) can tap into a P18-billion fund to hire contact tracers from existing network of barangay health workers, parent-leaders from the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), according to Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon.

Drilon gave the assurance after doctors called on the Senate to reconsider its position on the P11.7 billion budget being requested by the health department for the hiring of 130,000 contract tracers. Drilon said the P18 billion fund under the proposed Bayanihan To Recover as One Act will be used for the implementation of cash- for-work program and the TUPAD program, such as, but not limited to, temporary hiring of data encoders, and other personnel as may be necessary in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and for emergency subsidy to worker in critically-impacted sectors and industries.

“There are funds made available from the proposed Bayanihan to Recover as One Act to boost our contact tracing capability. The new Bayanihan law made sure that the three T’s (test, trace and treatment) will have ample support and funding,” Drilon said.

“Huwag na po nating haluan ng pulitika ang contact tracing.We do not need to create a new network of 130,000 contact tracers. What we need is contact tracers, not an army of political supporters nor an army of trolls,” Drilon said.

“The DOH should just mobilize around 400 thousand barangay health workers and parent-leaders from the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program to carry out contact tracing. They can do contract tracing with ease and efficiency because of their familiarity with the place rather than hiring a new army of contact tracers,” Drilon said.

Drilon said the DOH may use the fund to engage contact tracers but urged the agency to use available technology and networks of volunteers to boost its contact tracing efforts.

Drilon also said he proposed an amendment for a more efficient and cost-friendly contact tracing by maximizing the use of the technology.

“The contacts of COVID-19 patients should be immediately and properly traced through the use of efficient technology for data collection and analysis,” Drilon said, citing innovations made by local government units such as Baguio City led by Mayor Benjamin Magalong. SENATE.GOV.PH