Senators blast politicians taking advantage of COVID-19 crisis to campaign for 2022 polls
Robie de Guzman • April 3, 2020 • 1054
MANILA, Philippines – Minority senators on Friday lambasted politicians who are taking advantage of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis to advance their political agenda, hampering the speedy delivery of relief to millions of poor families.
In a joint statement, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, and Senators Francis Pangilinan and Risa Hontiveros criticized politicians who are exploiting the current public health situation to campaign for the 2022 elections, leaving millions of vulnerable and low-income Filipino families unassisted.
“It is not red tape. It is the 2022 political campaign that is hampering the immediate distribution of relief to millions of poor families,” the senators said.
The lawmakers issued the statement following complaints regarding the “sluggish” release of assistance by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and other government agencies.
“It saddens us that there are people who could be so heartless and power hungry as to take advantage of this crisis to advance their political ambition,” the lawmakers said.
“To presidential wannabees, hands off, please. Go away,” they added.
The senators stressed that the distribution of disaster aid and the bureaucracy is politicized when political campaign gets in the way.
“Worse, national and local officials who have shown initiative and innovation in responding to COVID-19 crisis are politicized, criticized and crucified, which would only add to the suffering of our countrymen and women,” they said.
The lawmakers also called on private corporations and charity groups to be discerning and to not allow themselves to be used for obvious political propaganda, especially during these trying times.
They also called on the DSWD and other government agencies to just use their existing database instead of distributing social amelioration cards (SAC) in implementing the government’s emergency subsidy program for the COV-19 crisis as provided in the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.
The SAC is a form being distributed at the barangay level to capture the family profile, which will be used as the basis in providing aid to the affected families.
“Let us spare our fellow Filipinos this unnecessary procedure. Our kababayans are getting hungry and desperate for help. They lost jobs. Give the aid ASAP,” they said.
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Wednesday called on the national government to expedite the construction of quarantine centers and field hospitals, instead of using school buildings for COVID-19 patients, to ease the burden on the country’s health care system.
Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts, and Culture, said that using schools as isolation facilities “is not sustainable and does not foster a culture of safety in the basic education system.”
“Ang mabilis na pagpapatayo ng mga field hospitals at mga quarantine centers ang isang paraan upang mabigyan natin ng agarang atensyon ang mga kababayan nating nagkakasakit,” he said in a statement.
“Imbes na masanay tayong gumamit ng mga paaralan bilang isolation facilities o evacuation centers, ang dapat nating tiyakin ay ang pagkakaroon ng sapat at angkop na mga pasilidad para sa mga nangangailan ng tulong medikal,” he added.
The senator also pointed out that before the pandemic, the prolonged use of school facilities in times of disasters, such as evacuation centers during calamities, tends to delay the resumption of classes.
Gatchalian pitched anew his proposal to build an evacuation center in every city and municipality in the country, which is stated in Senate Bill No. 747 that he filed in 2019.
Under the proposed measure, these evacuation centers will provide temporary accommodation for people who have been evacuated or displaced from their homes due to emergencies, including the outbreak of illnesses and diseases.
The Department of Education earlier said it has allowed some schools in the country to be used as quarantine facilities for suspected coronavirus cases to help decongest hospitals from COVID-19 admission. Other schools were also being used as vaccination sites.
The department also stressed that its terms and conditions should be satisfied and that compliance with quarantine guidelines should be ensured before a school can be converted into a quarantine facility.
The use of public schools as a quarantine facility or vaccination site should also be the “last option,” stressing the need to ensure the safety of personnel who report for work on-site.
MANILA, Philippines –The United States (US) government has issued an advisory for its citizens to avoid travel to the Philippines due to a “high-level” of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 4 Travel Health Notice for the Philippines due to COVID-19, indicating a very high level of COVID-19 in the country,” the US Department of State – Bureau of Consular Affairs (CA) announced in its website.
The CA said that aside from COVID-19, crimes, terrorism, civil unrest, and kidnapping are among the reasons cited by the CDC in placing the Philippines on Level 4 advisory.
The bureau advises US citizens to exercise increased caution in going to the Philippines, and to “read the Department of State’s COVID-19 page before you plan any international travel.”
“There are restrictions in place affecting U.S. citizen entry into the Philippines,” the CA said.
The Do Not Travel advisory specifically indicated the Sulu Archipelago, including the southern Sulu Sea, due to crime, terrorism, civil unrest, and kidnapping; and Marawi City in Mindanao due to terrorism and civil unrest.
It also advised to Reconsider Travel to other areas of Mindanao due to crime, terrorism, civil unrest, and kidnapping.
The State Department added that should US citizens decide to travel to the Philippines, they must visit the U.S. Embassy’s webpage regarding COVID-19, the CDC’s webpage on Travel and COVID-19, monitor local media for breaking events, and adjust their plans based on new information, and other follow other precautions specified.
Countries that were issued a Level 4 travel warning include Canada, France, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, and Spain among others. —/mbmf
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