Apr 2, 2020

On Apr. 1, President Rodrigo Duterte held a surprise public address to discuss the shortage of relief goods and the severity of the country’s current situation. The address was aired hours after residents in Sitio San Roque, Quezon City were arrested for demanding food and assistance during the month-long lockdown.

Duterte admitted that the government was overwhelmed by the situation, which led to a shortage of supplies and delays in distribution of relief supplies for people who need it—despite reassuring the public in earlier addresses that the government was prepared for the quarantine. Instead of presenting a concrete plan on how supplies will be managed and distributed during the quarantine, he implored people to wait and not use force.

President Rodrigo Duterte assured the public that the government will do everything in its capacity to address the COVID-19 situation.#COVID19PH#LagingHandaPH#workingPCOO

Posted by Presidential Communications (Government of the Philippines) on Monday, March 30, 2020

 

People who criticize the government’s distribution of goods, however, will be detained until the effects of COVID-19 die down. The president added that people who have been detained for slamming the government will not be receiving any food or assistance. “Huwag ninyo akong takutin ng gulo-gulo kasi kung gusto talaga ninyo ng gulo, guguluhin natin ang bayan natin tutal wala pa namang pagkain,” Duterte added.

On top of threatening to detain dissenters, Duterte also ordered military, police and even barangay officials to kill anyone who breaks the law. “Do not intimidate the government, do not challenge the government,” the President stressed. “Matatalo kayo, sigurado.”

Aside from issuing threats to people who challenge the government, Duterte’s latest address failed to discuss these issues:

DSWD’s social amelioration program

Under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) announced that they will be providing social amelioration measures to sectors left most vulnerable during the enhanced community quarantine. Low-income households in Metro Manila will be receiving P8,000 while other regions will be receiving P5,000 based on regional minimum wage.

Paano makakatanggap ng SOCIAL AMELIORATION PACKAGE?Maagap at Mapagkalingang Serbisyo! #DSWDMayMalasakit

Posted by Department of Social Welfare and Development on Monday, March 30, 2020

As of writing, the DSWD has not specified when the cash aid will be distributed to the households. Deputy Speaker Luis Raymund Villafuerte Jr., who’s wary of possible red tape issues in distribution of financial aid, said that the DSWD has not released the memorandums of agreement needed to facilitate the release of funds to the local governments.

Duterte, however, stated that he entrusted the DSWD with the distribution of cash and food aid since the department had the experience and the network to successfully carry out the task. “Do not entertain doubts about dishonesty and corruption,” Duterte added. “Hindi panahon na ‘yan ngayon. Not this time.”

P275B budget

Another aspect of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act that has not been discussed in Duterte’s latest address was the allotted P275 billion worth of public funds. Since it was signed into law on Mar. 24, the government has yet to explain how the funds will be utilized towards medical initiatives and health services such as test kits and personal protective equipment.

[READ: The private sector is mobilizing to fund medical frontliners. Where are gov’t funds for healthcare?]

Extension of enhanced community quarantine

In a virtual press briefing on Mar. 31, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles announced that the COVID-19 Inter-agency Task Force will be convening to set parameters for the potential extension, expansion or the partial lifting of the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon.

Nograles added that the reports on its extension that have been circulating around social media are fake and that extensions and other amendments to the enhanced community quarantine are still subject to the approval of the task force.

Mayor Vico Sotto’s summons by the NBI

Yesterday, Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto received a summons from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) due to a possible violation of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act. Sotto confirmed that he had received a letter from the NBI, but stated that it did not specify which violation he incurred.

NBI Deputy Director Ferdinand Lavin explained that the letter sent to Sotto enabled him to explain his side of the allegation, and that he was required to send his explanation to the NBI by Apr. 7 at 10 a.m. If guilty, the mayor may face imprisonment for two months or a fine of not less than P10,000 but not more than P1 million.

 

Header photo screengrabbed from the Presidential Communications (Government of the Philippines) Facebook Live

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TAGS: 2020 bayanihan act bayanihan to heal as one act coronavirus covid-19 DSWD Duterte mayor vico sotto nbi nolisoli President Rodrigo Duterte