Dispatch from Crame No. 744: Sen. Leila M. de Lima on the Duterte government’s mismanagement of the COVID-19 crisis


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On Day 7 of the lockdown, which started as an NCR-wide Community Quarantine, then expanded to cover the whole of Luzon, the following things are clear:

The Duterte Administration is ill-prepared to face the crisis. Its agency heads are not coordinating among each other. While the DOTr lifted travel bans on foreign nationals, the DFA announced that foreigners will no longer be allowed entry. The DOTr responded that the ban on foreigners will take effect only on March 22, or Day 8 of the NCR lockdown or Day 7 of the Luzon lockdown. The inconsistency and flip-flopping on this matter only serve to imperil the effectiveness of the lockdown.

POGOs continue to operate. POGOs are still allowed to ferry their workers from their residences to the POGO facilities. Whether on minimal capacity or not, their reported exemption from suspension of gaming operations gives the impression that POGOs are being treated as an essential industry, like the medical services, the utilities sector, and food production and distribution. Kailan pa ba naging “essential” ang pagsusugal sa panahon ng kalamidad?

The government would rather still waste valuable resources on social media trolls than maximize spending on combatting the spread of the contagion. It seems to give more priority to spinning its crisis management than to actually managing the crisis. Foremost of its troll operations are focused on performing LGU executives, after Duterte dumped most of the work on them. Now that some of them have actually shined in delivering to their constituents, Duterte would rather put them down by threatening them with criminal and administrative cases.

The national government bannered the release of 27 billion pesos for the COVID-19 crisis, yet 14 billion is allotted to tourism. In case Duterte and his officials have not noticed, being a tourist is not the priority of either Filipinos or foreigners at the moment. They just want to pull through this quarantine stage and resume their normal lives. And to be able to reach that, the country needs that 14 billion pesos for actual anti-COVID19 efforts, like testing kits, PPEs, medicines, hospital equipment, community kitchens, etc. We do not need that reserved for some future tourism drive galore. Simple lamang po ang dapat pag-iisip diyan. Aanhin pa ang turismo kung patay na ang mga turista?

The Health Secretary is on a 14-day quarantine. The question then arises: who is leading us in this public health emergency? Sino ang nagpapatakbo at namumuno ngayon ng DOH? Sino ang nagdedesisyon at nagmamando sa buong pwersa ng DOH? In a time of crisis, government has to be clear who are the leaders on top of the crisis. Government should be categorical on who is our top health official now in charge of responding to the health emergency since Sec. Duque is not fully functional, if not virtually immobilized.

Buti na lang nandyan ang mga LGUs at private sector…

(Access the handwritten copy of Dispatch from Crame No. 744, here: https://issuu.com/senatorleilam.delima/docs/dispatch_744)

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