Drilon, Pangilinan and Hontiveros to politicians taking advantage of COVID-19 crisis: Go away

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, Senator Francis Pangilinan and Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros lambasted Thursday politicians who are exploiting the situation to advance their political agenda, saying that the 2022 presidential campaign is obviously getting in the way, 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 group said amid complaints regarding the sluggish release of assistance by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and other 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,” they said. 

“To presidential wannabees, hands off, please. Go away,” they added.  

“We all know what happens when political campaign gets in the way: the distribution of disaster aid is politicized and the bureaucracy is politicized,” the senators said. 

“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,” the stressed. 

The minority bloc also said that private organizations, corporations and institutions should not let themselves be used for obvious political propaganda.  

“When charity is politicized, it stinks. In times like this, it kills,” they said. 

They also questioned the need for the DSWD to distribute social amelioration cards (SAC) and gather personal information again when it has in its possession a complete database of poor and low-income families needing more assistance from the government. 

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. 

“Why are they collecting information again? We have a functional National Household Targeting System that is used by the DSWD in implementing the 4Ps program?” they asked. 

“Does it mean that their database is not reliable? If they cannot explain it, well, we cannot help but think that it is part of an effort to create a database for the 2022 campaign,” they said.  

The senators said DSWD and other agencies should just use their existing database in implementing the social amelioration package during the COVID-19 crisis. 

 “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.