Press Release
July 1, 2021

ANC Headstart with Karen Davila

Q: My first question is, What do you think of Bayanihan 2 expiring. It's now expired, and they claim there was still P9 Billion left in Bayanihan 2, if those figures are correct.

SRH: Yes, Karen, and good morning. I know there was a coalition of tens of civil society organizations na nag-signature campaign pa nga sila, ultimately kay Presidente, pero pati sa Kongreso, na i-extend daw ni Presidente yung validity of the Bayanihan 2 funds, as we, in Congress, already did from last year to end of middle of this year, yesterday, kasi gusto nga nila na hindi maputol yung funding, especially for COVID-19 and recession responses this year and nanawagan sila sa amin na magpasa, in fact, ng Bayanihan 3.

Unfortunately, the President did not act on this appeal. At ngayon we're on the eve of once again opening our budget debates, where I do agree with them, top of our duties will be to pass a COVID- and recession-responsive budget for 2022. Pero na i-consider din namin ng seryoso ang pagpasa ng isang Bayanihan 3 para totoong hindi maputol.. para hindi masayang ang pondong 'yun.

In fact, dapat talaga gastusin at ngayon para sa ating kalusugan at ating ekonomiya.

Q: Senator Manny Pacquiao accused the DOH as one of the most corrupt agencies and Secretary Duque just read the utilization rate of Bayanihan 1 and 2. Are you satisfied with the performance of the health department?

SRH: Not satisfied, Karen. In fact, that's part of my pending resolution, requesting the Commission on Audit to conduct a special audit of our COVID-19 expenses, doon palang sa Bayanihan 1. I've been calling for the Executive, Malacanang, to pick up yung kalahating taon nang naputol na weekly reports dapat sa ating mamamayan, sa Kongreso, of again, their COVID-19 expenses. And of course the DOH is front and center of what should be that spending for our health response.

I'm not at all satisfied with the performance so far of the DOH, not in terms of performance on the ground, and not in terms of reporting to the people. Paano ginagastos ang bawat piso natin para sa kalusugan?

Q: So you feel there is a lack of transparency?

SRH: There is a lack of transparency or cuts on the transparent communication to the public. Because why is the last Malancang weekly report way, way back in January, more than half a year ago? Bakit hindi parin nagkakaroon nga ng COA special audit? Of course, they're not an Executive body, they're a Constitutional body, but why hasn't there been action towards a special audit on DOH and all the other agencies moving under or within the IATF?

Q: Bloomberg came out with a study and ranks the Philippines 52nd out of 53 economies, so 2nd to the last, in terms of resiliency ranking with the COVID programs and you heard Secretary Duque, he said it's unfair, it's skewed towards countries who have a lot of supply of vaccine and he went as far as saying, 'I'm pissed with this report.' So what do you make of that Bloomberg report?

SRH: I think, Karen, ang dapat talagang ma-piss-off ay hindi yung Health Secretary, pero yung ating mga mamamayan, not with the Bloomberg report, because it's just the latest reflection of the truth on the ground. Ang talagang nakakabwisit, nakakadismaya sa mamamayan is the very poor health response and twinning that, the poor economic response.

Unfair ba ang Bloomberg report? Mas unfair na this health and economic response has been so poor in protecting our people from the worst effects of COVID-19, and of the recession. Skewed daw towards vaccination administration? But my gosh, yung vaccination is already the fifth in our set of life-saving responses to the COVID pandemic.

Last year pa dapat nag-proprocure na tayo or nag-sisignify ng intention to procure, in addition to what we would be receiving through COVAX. Yung unang apat na steps nga, Karen, test, trace, isolate or quarantine and treat, hanggang ngayon we haven't come up to speed with that and vaccination is just already the fifth step.

Sisisihin pa ba natin ang Bloomberg? Hey, they're just doing their duty as a very dispassionate, hard-nosed economic publication and monitor. Rather than getting mad at Bloomberg, we should step up. Kasi hindi naman Bloomberg, ang ika nga nag-drop ng ball. I'm sorry, it was the health department, under the leadership of the good Secretary, that has been dropping the ball so far.

Q: On another issue, you have been calling for a National Day for the West Philippine Sea. Let's talk briefly about this and how important is this, you feel?

SRH: It is so important. The West Philippine Sea alone is so important in terms of marine and energy resources for our country. And that victory at the Hague in 2016, it signaled that the world, under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, recognizes and with the Philippines, upholds our national sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea vis-a-vis that regional giant, China.

I felt Karen, it was time, through the Senate resolution, to call for a special day and other activities na i-marka talaga sa kalooban ng bawat Pilipino itong tagumpay natin.

Q: And so the next generations will know.. They will not lose memory of the victory.

SRH: They will not lose memory. In the face of this wave of disinformation and misinformation about our victory in terms of the West Philippine Sea, at para din, Karen, magunita ng bawat Pilipino na, in the face again of all the dis- and misinformation, it was the late President Noy, who is the father of our victory at the Hague, in terms of the West Philippine Sea. He is a true patriot at dapat maggunita natin, taon-taon, July 12, itong tagumpay natin tungkol sa West Philippine Sea, at na si PNoy ang ama niyan.

Q: I'm curious. Are you seeing that passed within this administration?

SRH: A resolution is always seeking a consensus and I hope that my colleagues in the Senate will see the political and the moral import of this. At syempre, pagdating na ng isang batas sa desk ng Pangulo, he will have to assess the merits of this law. And if and when he signs it into law, makinig din siya sa sentimiento ng karamihan ng mga mamamayan, finally, it will signal his loyalty to the Philippines, and not to China.

Q: My last question is the 2022 elections. You have senior members of the party, someone like Senator Drilon, already saying he'll retire and just wait for a post. Vice President Leni Robredo, who is unsure of running. Where do you see yourself in 2022? I'm assuming of course you will seek reelection.

SRH: Yes, I'll be seeking reelection to the Senate, again carrying my certificate of candidacy from Akbayan party, my party. And even now, looking back on the past two years na mga one-on-one talks among different parties and even different individuals, seeing itong recent na pagsulpot ng initiative ng 1Sambayan, looking forward in the next several months to many more talks among different formations, parties, individuals.

Q: Do you feel disheartened, somewhat?

SRH: I have no right to feel disheartened. I feel all the more yung tungkulin ko bilang isang, hindi lang politiko, bilang isang aktibista to hope, and to contribute that hope actively into towards how I see myself also in the next months. Gusto kong maging bahagi ng isang united front, isang mas malawak na pagkakaisa, not just among us usual suspects in the opposition, but a broader unity among Filipinos— lahat tayo na kahit hindi oposisyon, basta na gusto ng isang ibang klase at mas mabuting administrasyon.

And you know, Karen, speaking about recent results of focused group discussions, karamihan ng mga mamamayan natin actually hindi pa iniisip talaga ang eleksyon because of the pressure of the pandemic and the recession. Tingin ko, ang hinahanap talaga ng mga tao is for government to give solutions, lalo tungkol sa kabuhayan at syempre pati sa kalusugan. And that's what I hope a broader unity of us Filipinos, in a united front, will be presenting now, in the next months, at sa susunod na eleksyon. Doon sana tayo magkaisa lahat, o karamihan.

News Latest News Feed