Press Release
August 16, 2020

Pangilinan: LGUs don't need big brothers, they need competent leaders

SENATOR Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan on Sunday questioned the designation of Cabinet officials as "big brothers" in charge of respective local government units, saying they instead need competent and upright national government leaders in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Pagkatapos pabayaan ang mga LGU na tumayo sa sarili nilang paa sa pagharap sa pandemya sa nakaraang limang buwan, sasabihin ngayon na kailangan ng big brother ang mga LGUs?" he said.

"I don't see how giving the national government more powers over the LGUs will help. It will be another layer in the already highly-centralized yet ineffective COVID-19 response," he added.

The senator stressed that the national government officials had all the powers and resources at their disposal, yet still failed to reach their targets in the fight against COVID-19.

"Why give more powers to those whose performance leaves much to be desired?" Pangilinan said.

Through a resolution of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, Cabinet members have been tasked to strictly monitor the health system performance, critical care capacity, and stringent compliance to surveillance, isolation, and treatment protocols of their cities and towns assigned to each of them.

This came as the Philippines held on to the top post in Southeast Asia as the country with the most number of COVID-19 cases with over 150,000 infections.

Pangilinan said LGUs have been doing their share in combating the pandemic and addressing the needs of their constituents using their own resources such as calamity funds and internal revenue allocations.

"Micromanagement ang ginagawa ng national government sa pagtalaga ng mga Cabinet members sa mga LGUs. Sa isang emergency situation tulad ng COVID pandemic, kritikal ang maliksi at angkop na pagkilos, hindi micromanagement," he said.

"Kung meron ngang magandang lumabas sa pandemyang ito ay ang pagtutulungan ng mga nasa komunidad. Mas alam ng mga tao sa lokal ang kanilang komunidad kaya mas angkop ang pagtugon nila. Kung hindi rin lang magbibigay ng dagdag na resources, huwag na sanang manghimasok pa ang mga opisyal ng national government," he added.

While there are national policies on COVID-19 response that every local government must follow, Pangilinan said local executives should be given leeway in implementing these as the one-size fits-all approach envisioned by the IATF's big brother scheme to gain control of the virus could actually have a detrimental effect in helping constituents survive the crisis.

"What the government should focus on is closely monitor over national agencies and institutions such as PhilHealth and ensure they are performing their mandate and crafting and implementing effective plans so that every peso of people's money is spent wisely, goes to the benefit of the people, and is accounted for," Pangilinan said.

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