Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon slammed the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) for pushing Charter change amid the Coronavirus disease (COVID)-19), calling it “a total waste of time and resources.”
“Habang ang mga Pilipino ay wala ng makain at nawalan ng trabaho, isusubo natin itong Cha-cha?” Drilon said in a statement on Sunday.
“We are in the middle of a pandemic. The country is grappling to contain COVID-19 and deal with its aftermath. To talk about Cha-cha is the height of insensitivity,” he stressed.
The media reported about ongoing efforts by the DILG to gather up to 2 million signatures over the next two months to back amendments to the Constitution, which will be submitted to Congress in July.
The minority leader warned the DILG not to use COVID-19 activities to promote Cha-cha and advance their agenda.
“It will only create distraction, division and unnecessary noise,” he said.
“The Congress and the executive branch should work together to pursue legislation that will help revive the economy and restore the jobs temporarily and permanently lost due to the pandemic. That should be the focus, not Cha-cha,” Drilon stressed.
Drilon said that all efforts should be geared toward addressing the crisis and paving the road to economic recovery.
He cited the widening budget deficit, inflation, unemployment, and rising poverty as among the urgent matters that the executive and the Congress should deal with.
“Hindi ko po maintindihan kung paanong ang usapin sa Cha-cha ay makakatulong sa ating ekonomiya at makakapagbigay ng trabaho sa ating mga kababayan,” he added.
“Our resources are depleting and the President said so. We have a long battle ahead with regard to dealing with this pandemic. All agencies should exercise prudence and wise judgment in the use of public funds, most especially in this most trying time in our history as a nation,” he said.
For his part, Sen. Francis Pangilinan, on media queries re DILG collecting Charter change signatures amid pandemic, said: “We are hard-pressed to raise funds to address the huge damage caused by the pandemic on the economy. Addressing the impact of the pandemic both on the health of our citizens and the health of the economy should be our only focus at this point.”
Pangilinan said charter change should be the least of the country’s concerns today.
“The current effort is out of touch with current realities and is an insult to millions of our citizens who have lost their jobs, who are experiencing unprecedented hunger and who continue to be threatened by the spread of this incurable disease.”
“Instead of using govt money and personnel on collecting millions of signatures, the DILG should instead focus on mass testing and contact-tracing millions of our citizens both of which up until now remain to be undertaken in full two months after the law granting Malacañang special powers to use billions of pesos to address the pandemic was passed,” he said./Stacy Ang