COVID-19 offers unique opportunity to address socioeconomic inequalities -Velasco

BOAC, Marinduque — As COVID-19 continues to ravage lives and livelihoods across the globe, Marinduque Representative and Speaker Lord Allan Jay Velasco on Monday urged the international community to take a collective effort to address socioeconomic inequalities further exposed and exacerbated by the pandemic.

“Even as this pandemic severely tests our respective health systems and economies, it can yet be our collective opportunity to harmoniously usher long-needed and wide-ranging socioeconomic reforms toward a definitive and sustainable path,” Velasco said in his remarks delivered virtually during the 2021 Global Parliamentary Workshop organized by the Paris-based Parliamentary Network on the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Velasco added, “The pandemic continues to surface the fact that we are all interconnected. Individuals, communities, and nations form a chain, and we all have the responsibility to assure that our own link is not the weakest in the midst of this global threat.”

The workshop served as a venue for legislators from all corners of the planet to engage in a dialogue with World Bank and IMF senior management to share lessons learned and strategies looking forward to achieve a sustainable and inclusive COVID-19 recovery and strong country outcomes.

Velasco led the House delegation to said workshop, which included Committee on Ways and Means Chair Joey Salceda, Committee on Banks and Financial Intermediaries Chair Junie Cua, and Deputy Minority Leader Jose Christopher “Kit” Belmonte.

Addressing his fellow legislators around the world, Velasco said the COVID-19 crisis offers a unique opportunity to “finally address long-standing social, economic and health inequalities.”
“As parliamentarians, we have the means to reallocate resources to where they can help our respective populations the most,” Velasco said, as he cited the need to come up with policies that would “benefit the unemployed and the informal sector, and support the marginalized, especially the young, the poor and women.”

One of the country’s top legislators also underscored the exigency to shift more investments to food security, and to establish resilient health systems, provide relevant education and deliver responsive social protection programs.

Under Velasco’s leadership, the House of Representatives passed several legislation designed to boost the government’s response to the public health crisis, such as the P4.506-trillion 2021 General Appropriations Act and the COVID-19 Vaccination Program Act, which was principally authored by Velasco in the lower chamber.

Velasco is also pushing for his own version of the Bayanihan 3, which proposes a well-targeted and proportionate stimulus package worth P420 billion to help struggling Filipinos and revive the country’s pandemic-ravaged economy.

According to Velasco, a whole-of-nation approach is necessary to address health and socioeconomic inequalities. “Effective coordination should be non-negotiable on all levels—local, regional, national, and global,” he said.

“Because of our shared goals, it should be easy to promote coalition building, and in so doing smoothly share technologies, exchange manpower, and align financing,” Velasco pointed out. “This will enable us to respond to both the urgencies of the present time and the projected demands on our health systems and economies, post-pandemic.”

To buttress institutions and earn the trust of the people, Velasco suggested the use of technology in ensuring up-to-date, useful and reliable information to support government decisions, plans and systems.

“Government must be the beacon of hope and stability during all crises, but especially during the present COVID-19 crisis,” Velasco said.

“Government must inform the people well, pursue restructuring of itself, and utilize resources toward a solid and sustainable economic recovery,” he concluded. —

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