Hontiveros on granting PRRD powers: “Paano natin masisigurado na mapupunta ang pondo sa taumbayan”

Hontiveros on granting PRRD powers: “Paano natin masisigurado na mapupunta ang pondo sa taumbayan”

The lone dissenter in the approval in the third and final reading of the “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act,” opposition senator Rissa Hontiveros explains her reason for thumbing down the said act.

She asks the question if the people will really receive as beneficiary the allocation of the government to fight the novel coronavirus 2019 or COVID-19.

She questions the law that grants the President “near-absolute control over public funds in national government agencies and even government-owned and controlled corporations,” that may be subject to abuse and corruption.

opposition senator Rissa Hontiveros
(photo credit to owner)

“The President’s new powers would authorize him to now stop altogether important government projects and divert their funding to other uses, with little check and balances in place. Paano ngayon mamomonitor ng taumbayan ang paggamit ng napakalaking mga pondo na ito, at paano tayo makakasiguro na ito nga ay napupunta sa paglaban sa COVID-19? Ano ang garantiya na hindi mapupunta ang kaban ng bayan sa mga negosyante o Chinese companies na malapit sa administrasyon?” Hontiveros said.

“We cannot and should not blindly trust the use of these important funds to a government, which during this health crisis, has chosen to spend P14 billion on tourism projects, but has been unable to immediately and sufficiently deliver PPEs to our doctors, health workers, law enforcement agents, and other frontliners,” she adds.

Hontiveros is of the opinion that there are already existing laws that would answer the needs of the present situation.

“The Executive Branch does not need special powers for it to act urgently and decisively in meeting the immediate needs of the people amid the COVID-19 outbreak. While I am grateful that my amendment for the provision of cash transfers to poor Filipino families was included in the bill, even this provision does not require the grant of new powers. Our arsenal of readily-available laws and policies, notably the Government Procurement Reform Act (RA 9184), the Price Act (RA 7582) and the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act (RA 11332), has not been fully utilized in the fight versus COVID-19.” she said.

“These laws, if partnered with a supplemental budget, already authorize the government to purchase ample personal protective equipment (PPEs), medical supplies, relief packages, and other needed items, secure that prices of basic goods will remain affordable, and impose preventive community-wide measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, among others. I know because these were part of my proposals during the start of this crisis – a crisis that the government underestimated at the beginning,” she added.
The opposition senator also reasons out that mass COVID-19 testing, giving PPEs and hazard pay to the frontliners is already enough to address the crisis and not the special powers that was granted to President Duterte.

“Hindi special powers ang sagot sa pandemic na ito, kundi political will para isulong ang mass-testing, ibigay ang PPEs at hazard pay sa mga frontliners, at ihatid ang cash assistance sa mga mahihirap na pamilya at nawalan ng kita. Bakit special powers na ang hinihingi habang hindi pa tuluyang nagamit ang kasalukuyang mandato at kapangyarihan na mayroon ang Pangulo?” she stated.

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