More than a week after Enhanced Community Quarantine has been declared in Luzon and there has been damage done to the economic life of our citizens who were commandeered to stay at home, with no clear livelihood assistance, meanwhile local government units have been put in charge of providing food /food packs for their constituents some have received food packs while other LGUs give out cooked food. Sadly, there are communities that have yet to receive any food /food packs.
In the past week, we have had cases of patients sent home because of congested hospitals and over-burdened medical front liners have yet to be provided with sufficient personal protective equipment while the national government has yet to implement mass testing or coordinated disinfection of communities to stem the outbreak of the disease.
These glaring loopholes have yet to be addressed policy-wise.
Now, Malacanang is now asking the Senate and House of Representatives (HoR) to pass a bill that will hand to President Duterte additional powers ostensibly to handle the COVID-19 outbreak.
As of this writing, Senate did not proceed with the session as it lacked a quorum. The HoR proceeded with the Special Session with twenty in attendance and has already passed House Bill 6616 in the first reading.
We look at this proposal with concern especially given the blanket nature of the powers being asked including realignment of funds, relaxing procurement measures, taking over of privately-owned public utility or business affected with the public interest.
We remember that prior to the COVID-19 Duterte allies have been hounded with corruption charges, we remember that there has been no exit report in the implementation of a two year Martial Law in Mindanao. We remember that the Marawi rehabilitation funds have yet to be satisfactorily explained and that the city remains in rubble two years after the siege.
We believe that shortcut powers can only serve the short-sighted, selfish interests of the unscrupulous. Granting the executive additional powers is a recipe that can open doors to corruption and abuse devoid of accountability especially if the plans to address the COVID-19 have not revealed to the public.
Assurances of “no” corruption cannot assure the public, only ensuring that our government has clear, scientific and public health is the only real measure that we will be effectively addressing the outbreak.
Let us not legislate ourselves into an untenable situation. Already, there is confusion and excesses in the implementation of the lockdown. This must be addressed and soon.
We need clarity and consistency in implementing the guidelines. Additional powers are unnecessary and superfluous at this point.
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