Apr 9, 2020

President Rodrigo Duterte presided over the meeting of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), at midnight Apr. 9, Thursday. Among updates from different agencies, the president also discussed the status of different government action plans against the COVID-19 crisis.

During this address, Duterte said there is a possibility of selling government assets should funding run short. This is the last resort, he said. This is also in line with an earlier statement that the P270 billion COVID-19 response fund was not enough. He has since urged Secretary of Finance Carlos Dominguez III to seek more sources of funding.

“Pag wala na akong makuha and we’re about to sink and really sink, I will sell all the assets of the government tapos itulong ko sa tao,” Duterte said. Among the assets that may be sold are the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC).

CCP houses three national theaters and several exhibition halls, while the PICC is one of the most important facilities which the government uses in hosting local and foreign conventions. It has recently hosted the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in 2015 and the 30th ASEAN Summit in 2017. The PICC is also currently being used as a makeshift hospital for COVID-19 patients. 

CCP, having been inaugurated in 1969, is already 51 years old, qualifying it to be a cultural property under the National Cultural Heritage Act.

Duterte made no mention to whom he intends to sell the two cultural sites should the need arise.

Amelioration delay

Meanwhile, Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Rolando Bautista also discussed during the IATF meeting the delay in the rollout of social aid from the government. He said that there have been delays because the list of beneficiaries from local government units was not available.

“Siguro ang ineexpect po namin noon ay ang LGU alam nila ang kanilang constitutents, they have the profile—the names, the work, and other livelihood activities ng kanilang mga nasasakupan. Dahil hindi rin nila masyadong kabisado o may kakulangan sa mga listahan, dito nagkaroon ng problema,” Bautista said.

He adds that since this is the first time the government will be implementing an amelioration program of this scale, the system really won’t be perfect. “But as we continue to engage the LGUs, [we’ll be] able to identify what are the gaps and shortcomings. Hopefully in due time we’ll be able to distribute amelioration systematically and orderly,” he said.

 

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