With Philippine unemployment rate posting a record-high 17.7% in April, Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan on Sunday called on the government to focus on helping the millions of jobless Filipinos.
“Tulungang mabigyan ng trabaho ang mga kababayan natin. Ito ang dapat pagtuunan ng pansin ng gobyerno at hindi ang anti-terror bill,” said Pangilinan, who voted against the measure, which among others, allows the government to detain a suspect for 24 days without charges.
“Nakakalungkot isipin na sa kabila ng gutom, kawalan ng trabaho, at maayos na sistemang pang-transportasyon na dinaranas ng ating mga kababayan, tila iba ang prayoridad ng gobyerno,” the senator added.
The Philippine Statistics Authority reported a record-high unemployment rate of 17.7% in April 2020 or about 7.3 million unemployed Filipinos, up from 2.3 million in 2019 of the same quarter and 2.4 million a quarter ago.
“Inihalal ang mga lider para pagsilbihan ang bayan, hindi para takutin at patahimikin ang mga mamamayang humihiling lamang ng tulong sa gitna ng pandemya. Gamitin nang tama ang kapangyarihan para mabigyan muli ng hanapbuhay ang mga Pilipinong naapektuhan ng lockdown sa gitna ng pandemya,” Pangilinan said.
Earlier this week, President Rodrigo Duterte certified as urgent the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.
On Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed the measure on third and final reading by a vote of 173-31, with 29 abstentions.
The Senate, meanwhile, already passed the bill last February with Senators Pangilinan and Risa Hontiveros as the sole dissenters.
With the House version of the measure having no disagreeing provisions with the Senate version, it now only requires the President’s signature for it to become law.
Various students, religious, and business groups, including the Makati Business Club and the Management Association of the Philippines, oppose its enactment.
And the backlash has prompted Malacañang to say that it would review the measure. The popular opposition to the bill in the midst of pandemic also caused some congressmen to withdraw their yes votes./Stacy Ang