Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, Majority Leader.
It is with regret that I have to vote no on this measure.
I was listening to Sen. Recto and all the more I am convinced that a ‘no vote’ has basis.
Mr. President, it has been 7 weeks after this chamber approved on 2nd reading the Bayanihan 2, extremely disturbing news of alleged massive corruption, 7 weeks after, in Philhealth hit the country’s news headlines. In the days to come I understand hearings will be conducted to look into these serious allegations of the misuse of COVID related funding right in the middle of the pandemic.
Today, nearly two months after the Government imposed the May 30 deadline to achieve 30,000 tests daily, we have failed to meet the target with over 10,000 backlog cases as of today.
Today, nearly 5 months after the March 15 lockdown and after experiencing the longest community quarantine all over the world, the total number of COVID cases continues to rise with 82,040 total cases and 1,657 new confirmed cases and deaths now nearing 2,000 as of July 27, 2020. In contrast, Thailand to date has 3,292 cases, Malaysia has 8,897, and Vietnam has 420 cases. The difference in the numbers is glaring and disappointing.
Clearly, compared to all other countries in the region save for Indonesia whose population is nearly three times larger than ours, we have failed to stop the spread of the disease and have been unable to meet our own imposed targets and deadlines for mass testing, contact tracing, and isolation.
The Senate last April correctly called on the resignation of Sec. Duque for his failure in leadership. Sadly, his incompetence and worse, his being linked to corruption has been condoned and left unpunished.
I am afraid Mr. President that unless Secretary Duque is fired or is forced to step down as Chairperson of the IATF, the country will only see more incompetence and more corruption issues hounding the government’s efforts in addressing the pandemic. It must be underscored that a review of the provisions of Bayanihan 2 that we have just approved on third reading will show that of the first 26 interventions listed by the law in Section 3 as necessary to effectively combat the pandemic, 13 or half of these needed interventions, are placed on the shoulders of the DoH.
I am afraid that under the mediocre leadership displayed consistently since the pandemic hit us, none of these 13 interventions will be met or achieved and billions of funds will be spent yet again without our achieving the results necessary to manage the spread of the disease effectively.
Without an effective management of the spread of the disease, Mr. President, we will be unable to reopen the economy and in failing to reopen the economy due to the failure of the DoH to bring COVID to manageable levels, then our economic recovery will be elusive and widespread hunger and joblessness will persist.
In addition to the poor performance, Mr President, I believe the amount of 160 billion [pesos] is inadequate to address the economic losses we are now facing. To be fair, the Senate through Sen. Angara proposed a much higher amount in the original committee report but this was not what the Executive Department had in mind.
Originally the Senate Committee report recommended the amount of 236 billion [pesos]. It is also my belief and I know this is shared by several other colleagues that to be able to face what is arguably the most serious health and economic crisis since World War 2, it will require more than just 160 billion [pesos] worth of government funds. And as Sen. Recto puts it, 13 days of salaries for our workers is worth 160 billion pesos. This is another concern regarding the impact of such an amount in the effort to revive the economy and provide meaningful assistance to those distressed.
We vote no to additional funding specified in the Bayanihan 2 because we believe that Sec. Duque ought to be fired before billions more are allowed to be released to the DoH.
We must hold him, the country’s top health official and the Chairperson of the IATF, to account for the continuing spread of the disease among Filipinos. Since the first COVID foreigner patient was discovered seven months ago, the test scores on the outcome of the Philippine COVID response indicate failure:
In terms of percentage of active cases, we are the worst among Asian countries: 65%. Singapore, in contrast is 8.8%, while Thailand is 3.5%.
In terms of deaths per million population, ours is one of the worst: 17. Singapore is 5, and Thailand 0.8.
In terms of percentage of recovered, among the worst among Asian countries: 32.1% recovered. Singapore has 91.2% recovery, and Thailand has 94.85% recovery.
Numbers do not lie, Mr. President. All indicators point to a dismal, mediocre performance.
Our people are going hungry. Millions are jobless. All are worried about the future because again, almost seven months after the first imported case of COVID, with what is said to be the longest lockdown in the world, the government still does not have a well-defined, clearly spelled out and efficient system for mass testing, contact tracing, and isolation.
Naghihingalo ang ating ekonomiya dahil sa palpak at kulang na pagtugon sa pandemya.
Ang kailangan natin ay magaling, mapag-aruga, at matinong doktor para maayos natin, masolusyunan natin, ang magkakambal na sakit ng COVID at kurakot na kinakaharap ng bayan natin.
Hindi natin kailangan nang mas marami pang pulis. Ng mas marami pang militar. Hindi natin kinakailangan ang kamay na bakal.
When the Senate voted on Bayanihan 1, this representation stressed that our expression of a yes vote with serious reservations comes with both a warning and an admonition to the implementors of the law that our people deserve better from them.
In view of the foregoing, we vote no to Bayanihan 2. We vote no because we refuse to tolerate mediocrity, incompetence, and, yes,corruption.
For Secretary Duque’s failure to keep infections down and to flatten the curve, and his failure to stem corruption and to prevent the misuse of public funds meant to address the COVID pandemic, we vote no to additional funding specified in the Bayanihan 2.
We cannot allow this mediocrity in leadership to further have a hand in billions of pesos worth of public funds and we cannot allow incompetence in the highest levels to continue to hold sway and make decisions urgently needed to stave off further economic losses, losses now reaching over a trillion pesos. For the sake of the nation’s health and to prevent the total collapse of the nation’s economy, Duque has to go. The nation deserves better.
For this, again, it is with regret that I vote NO.
Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you Majority Leader.