Press Release
July 21, 2020

Drilon's SONA wish list: Duterte's overall comprehensive plan to mitigate COVID-19 impact

Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon said he expects the President to discuss in his upcoming State of the Nation Address (SONA) the administration's overall comprehensive plan to alleviate the plight of Filipinos and mitigate the economic impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

"The upcoming SONA is an opportunity for the President to present an overall comprehensive plan on how the country will survive this pandemic," Drilon said in a radio interview on Tuesday.

"At the top of our wish list is to hear the President's plan on how to revive our economy heavily hit by the pandemic and help millions of our countrymen, including hundreds of thousands of overseas Filipino workers, who lost their livelihood," he added.

Drilon lamented the lack of an overall comprehensive plan in the fight against COVID-19. He earlier said that because the government did not have an overall plan, it resulted in a shotgun approach in dealing with the pandemic and in implementing the longest lockdowns in the world, which did little to prevent the spread of the virus but only damaged the economy.

"We want to hear about the government's plans on how we can get out of this situation as a whole and I assure them that the members of the opposition will cooperate with the administration in crafting measures to help them address the pandemic," Drilon stressed.

Drilon said it is clear that the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) has failed to effectively prevent the spread of the virus, noting how the cases rapidly increase each day.

""Let's face it, the IATF has failed and even the Malacanang would admit it," he said.

From around 300 cases per day in March, the cases have jumped to a daily average of 2,000 since June, he noted.

"The IATF should take a second look at what they have done. They should review their performance and find out how they can be more effective. What did Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam do that we failed to do?" he said.

"You know, these days just to survive is already an achievement by itself. What do we have to do to prevent the spread of the virus?" he added.

The minority leader said he also wants to hear the President talk about how much the country would really need to beef up the economy, noting the conflicting figures between the Department of Finance and Congress.

The House of Representatives is eyeing a P1.3 trillion stimulus package to revive the economy but the executive, through the finance department, said the amount is too high and the government can only allow up to P140 billion, Drilon recalled.

"We are ready to support any measure towards economic recovery. But the first question is: how much do we need to jumpstart the economy?"

He added: "If we agree on a certain amount, then the next question is, how are we going to fund it? Is it through a new tax measure or by borrowing?"

Drilon said he would not object to the country borrowing more funds to address the pandemic, even if it exceeds its deficit target, as long as the people's needs are addressed.

Meanwhile, the minority leader thumbed down the move of the lower house to begin its deliberation on Charter Change upon the resumption of session next week.

"Regardless of the merit, the issue on Cha-cha is the timing. Should we debate on Cha-cha now, which is a very divisive issue, or should we concentrate all our efforts and resources on economic recovery?" Drilon said in a separate statement.

Drilon said discussing Cha-cha in the SONA is "a waste of time" and stressed that the SONA should just focus on the President's plans for the country's recovery and healing from COVID-19 pandemic.

Last week, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said that the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) had passed a resolution seeking the Charter amendments purportedly to institutionalize the Mandanas ruling of the Supreme Court and lift the restrictions on foreign investment.

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