Assistant Minority Leader and ACT Teachers Representative France Castro on Thursday demanded for transparency with the budget realignments under President Rodrigo Duterte’s emergency powers.
Castro said in these times where people are calling for medical and socio-economic solutions, the Duterte administration should ensure the people’s right to information and that emergency powers would be used to genuinely fight further spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
“With his emergency powers swiftly granted by Congress last Monday, we demand the Duterte administration be transparent with sources of realigned funds and what items will be augmented in the budget,” Castro said. “It is within the people’s right to information to be apprised of the dagdag-bawas that will happen with the budget, especially in these times of a health crisis where the people are demanding for concrete and comprehensive medical and socio-economic solutions to fight the further spread of the COVID-19 virus in the country and the socio-economic impact from the community quarantine,” said Castro.
“President Duterte should prove early into the implementation of his emergency powers that these will be used to genuinely fight the further spread of the COVID-19 virus and provide socio-economic aid to those most affected by the enhanced community quarantine in different parts of the country. Otherwise, the public opinion will be proven: that Congress just approved powers to the President to convert the national budget into presidential pork while the nation is dying of a pandemic and of hunger,” Castro stated.
Castro said, while Duterte created a National Action Plan (NAP) that supposedly aims to adopt measures for containment and mitigation of the spread of the virus to reduce the spread of new cases and to facilitate the detection, identification, and isolation of COVID-19 carriers, the Duterte administration has yet to release concrete and comprehensive medical and socio-economic solutions to fight this pandemic.
Castro said all this administration has done so far is to impose lockdowns, checkpoints and human rights violations against the people.
“Further, we ask how can this administration reassure the public for medical solutions when the President appointed former military and police as heads of the NAP?” Castro said.
Castro said the Duterte administration will be held accountable to its slow and incompetent response to the COVID-19 pandemic causing Filipino families uncertainty if they will have food on the table or if they are already carriers of the virus.
She said the people are demanding for transparency with the emergency powers Congress gave to the President as he realigns the people’s budget.
“It needs to listen to the people’s demands for mass testing and treatment and provide socio-economic relief to the poor. The people need to be reassured that their basic needs are not neglected by government,” Castro also said.
“Where are medical solutions like free and systematic mass testing, hiring and training of health personnel, PPE for frontliners, multiplication of referral or dedicated hospitals, and deeper support in development, production, and use of testing kits and laboratories? Where is the comprehensive medical plan against the prevalence of COVID-19, which is estimated to last longer and expanding?,” she said.
“Where is the assurance that in every action from testing to information dissemination, senior citizens, disabled, and poor are priority-and no VIP treatment will happen again? This is what the people are looking for today that is not in the National Action Plan (NAC) or even other administration documents and announcements,” said Castro.
Castro said civilian supremacy mandated by the Constitution is more important now because civilian supremacy ensures civilian, rights-based solutions. It directs civilian authorities in both national and local levels to work properly and as effective and as urgent as possible.
She said it is highly doubtful that the military and police have the competence to draft a National Action Plan and deal with a medical crisis.
“We repeat the people’s call to implement, as soon as possible, the Duterte government’s medical solutions and not military,” said Castro./Stacy Ang