“Read Bayanihan report; stop courting media hype”
Malacañang hit back at opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros for criticizing President Rodrigo Duterte’s public address late Monday night, saying she should “study” the President’s report to Congress and help in the fight against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
In a statement on Tuesday night, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the Office of the President has already submitted Duterte’s 18-page report to both the Senate and House of Representatives, detailing the actions undertaken by the Executive Branch to reduce further transmission of Covid-19 in the country.
“The good Senator may want to study the same for her enlightenment instead of courting a media hype,” he said.
Hontiveros said Duterte’s public address “was neither a sound assessment nor a concrete plan to address the Covid-19 crisis.”
“Where was she all this time when PRRD decisively acted on the national grave threat we face by undertaking aggressive measures to curb the spread of Covid-19? Was she perhaps hard on hearing when she was watching the televised message of the President as commented by one of her colleagues in the Senate? How could she have missed the program articulated by the Chief Executive?,” Panelo said.
“When the President signed Republic Act No. 11469 and the the Inter Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) was making a report to our people almost daily through its press briefings on how it was implementing the law, did she fail to catch any of these briefings on television and radio as well as read them in the newspapers?,” he added.
Instead of nitpicking, Panelo said Hontiveros should stop spreading misinformation.
“We urge her to engage in an intelligent and productive discourse and help in the battle against Covid-19 and not to contribute to the misinformation widely peddled in the social media by the purveyors of confusion and panic designed to put the President in a bad light,” he added.
He took a swipe at Hontiveros for being the only senator who voted against the “Bayanihan to Heal As One law” or Republic Act No. 11469.
“When the proposed bill was being debated in the Senate, did she not oppose its passage? What was she then opposing in the proposed legislation?” he said.
Panelo also criticized a media outlet for reporting a blog entry and tweets of entertainers and netizens criticizing Duterte’s televised address as allegedly lacking in transparency.
He defended Duterte’s public address, saying it “speaks for itself.”
Panelo said Duterte outlined the government’s program:
* To feed for two months the 18 million low-income households who were displaced by the enhanced community quarantine;
* To acquire the medical equipment and supplies as well as provide the sufficient supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) for doctors and health workers for their protection and establish testing facilities and laboratories to enhance our health system;
* To establish testing facilities and laboratories to enhance the country’s health system;
* To assist the farmers and the fisher-folks in their hour of distress; and
* To effect the smooth and efficient distribution of donations of medical supplies and PPEs by tasking the Office of Civil of Defense to the job, and giving the departments sufficient authority to implement the provisions and objectives of the Bayanihan To Heal As One Act.
“The televised message of the President highlights the unimpeded supply of food and agricultural products as well the enforcement of the law against hoarders and profiteers. The President forcefully stresses the immediate suspension, arrest and the prosecution of errant local officials who will politicize the distribution of food packages and abscond the amelioration fund assistance to be given to their constituents,” Panelo said.
He said Duterte also paid tribute to the heroism of the front-liners who risk – and of those who gave their lives for the service of the country.
“He acknowledges the generous donations of medical supplies, PPEs and other essential commodities and services coming from various countries, private corporations, individuals and even anonymous donors. He also appeals to the private employers to take care of their employees and implores all of us to take care of one another and unite as one as we face this country’s greatest crisis,” he said.
Under the Bayanihan law, Duterte must submit a weekly report to Congress every Monday detailing how he used his special powers to address Covid-19.
The report must include the amount and corresponding utilization of funds used, augmented, reprogrammed, reallocated, and realigned.
On March 24, Duterte signed the Bayanihan law which will remain in full force and effect for three months unless extended by Congress.
He also placed the entire of Luzon under enhanced community quarantine from March 17 to April 12 requiring all individuals to stay indoors and limit their movement to accessing basic goods and necessities.
As of Tuesday, heath authorities reported a total of 2,084 confirmed cases of Covid-19, 88 fatalities, and 49 recoveries. (PNA)