Lacson, Drilon want 'clearer' coronavirus response plan from Malacañang

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 01 2020 03:04 PM | Updated as of Apr 01 2020 03:42 PM

MANILA - The executive department "should provide" a "clearer" coronavirus response plan, two senators said Wednesday, a day after Malacañang submitted to Congress its first report on how President Rodrigo Duterte has exercised special powers granted by the legislative. 

Under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, the President must send a weekly report to Congress to explain how executive agencies implemented programs to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the country.

Duterte's first report said the government will prioritize "providing emergency assistance to affected sectors, securing facilities and resources for the health sector, and performing fiscal and monetary actions for the economy."

"While the President's initial report lists three priority programs... there does not appear to be an action plan for each of them," said Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who is a member of the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee.

"The Executive Department should provide Congress with a clearer picture of the COVID-19 situation and a progress update of implementation," he said in a statement.

The executive branch has yet to disburse cash aid for poor families and additional hazard pay for health workers as agencies are still finalizing databases, according to the President's report submitted on Tuesday, nearly 2 hours after deadline.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon described Duterte's first report as "lacking."

"We regret to see from that [report] the government has not crafted any new interventions or programs that could help the poor and keep the economy afloat while we are on a lockdown," Drilon, who is also a member of the legislative oversight panel, said in a separate statement.

"We have to see a comprehensive COVID financial package that will cover both the health and economic aspects. The Report does not show us what this looks like," he said.

Data on the number of Filipinos tested, displaced, and how the government is addressing these problems "must be spelled out" in the next report, Lacson said.

Guidelines on the use and immediate distribution of coronavirus test kits should also be reported to Congress, the senator said.

"The lack of foresight in this regard is obviously causing the delays as we see it actually happening now. They knew beforehand what they wanted to ask from Congress. When we gave it to them in a record time of 18 hours, apparently they were not prepared to execute," he said, referring to the urgent passage of the Bayanihan bill. 

"Such lack of planning and coordinating threatens to defeat the purpose of the urgency of RA 11469 - that is to resolve and fight the virus by way of smooth and expeditious implementation," he said.

The measure for special powers was passed as Luzon and other parts of the country were under lockdown to contain the spread of the contagious virus, which has also infected several government officials. 

The lockdown entailed suspension of school, work and transport, leaving millions of daily wage earners out of income for at least a month. 

Duterte on Monday announced a P200-billion social amelioration package for poor families to help cushion the impact of the lockdown.