Press Release
March 23, 2020

More testing, facilities, support for the people and frontliners, not more powers for Malacañang
Statement of Senator Risa Hontiveros on the Proposed Additional Executive Powers vs. COVID-19

Ngayong may krisis, mas malawakang testing laban sa COVID-19 at dagdag-pondo para sa pagkain, personal protective equipment (PPE), at health facilities ang agarang kailangan ng publiko, hindi dagdag-kapangyarihan para sa Pangulo.

I fully support the allocation of a supplemental budget to boost the government's efforts to immediately contain the novel coronavirus outbreak. However, the proposed grant of additional powers to the Executive Branch are clearly unnecessary to address the most pressing needs of health workers, COVID-19 patients, and poor Filipinos alike in this critical period.

Our existing laws already grant government the powers and other necessary tools needed to mount an effective response against COVID-19. Notably, the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act or Republic Act No. 11332, of which I am an author, provides comprehensive mechanisms during epidemics or other health emergencies.

Likewise, the Government Procurement Reform Act (RA 9184) at present authorizes government agencies to engage in speedier, alternative methods of procurement of resources - such as negotiated procurement - during calamities. In fact, the Government Procurement Policy Board issued Resolution 03-2020 to approve the efficient and expedient procurement procedures during this state of public health emergency.

What needs to be done is the immediate allocation of a supplemental budget that will allow economic safety nets for the most vulnerable affected by COVID-19 and all other programs the government must undertake to expand the capacity of our healthcare system and complement local government initiatives. I also join the public's call for more and speedier mass testing, with priority to those who are at risk such as our health workers, frontliners and the elderly, and to detect and isolate more asymptomatic cases. Temporary health facilities should also be put up as isolation, treatment and rehabilitation centers as we expect a growing number of infected persons.

Furthermore, I reiterate my call for relief packages that include cash assistance and food subsidies for poor Filipino families whose lives have been severely affected by the enhanced community quarantine. The government must also ensure ample funding to complement our local government units' efforts in providing their constituents' basic necessities.

Maraming doktor at health workers na ang nagkakasakit at may ilan na ring nababalitang namatay bilang mga frontliners. Marami na ring pamilya ang nagugutom dahil nawalan ng pinagkakakitaan. These are urgent problems which cannot be solved by more centralization and more executive powers.

The people need real solutions that present an overall health strategy to contain COVID-19 and protect the public's well-being: more funds to expand our health capacity, more economic safety nets, more testing and care for COVID-19 patients.

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