Duterte’s new martial law threat, a cover-up for failed COVID-19 response — CPP

Marje Pelayo   •   April 24, 2020   •   903

MANILA, Philippines – In response to President Rodrigo Duterte’s outburst over continued attacks against government forces, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) on Friday (April 24) accused the Chief Executive of just using the current coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic to carry out his agenda of imposing martial law.

On its website, the communist group stressed that the President is again blaming its armed wing – the New People’s Army (NPA) – ‘to cover up’ his administration’s failure in responding to the current health crisis particularly the conduct of COVID-19 mass testing.

“This is a classic deflection tactic to draw away the people’s attention from the government’s inept, incompassionate and irresponsible actions in the face of the pandemic,” the group said.

The CPP said imposing martial law will not end the pandemic but only cause ‘greater hardship’ to the Filipino people.

The group alleged that the extension of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) that has been expanded to cover Visayas and Mindanao is martial law.

“There is now creeping nationwide martial law and the entire country is now effectively under the highhanded and control of the military and police,” the CPP noted.

READ: Duterte threatens to declare martial law if NPA attacks continue

The leftist group defended the NPA over the recent encounters with government troops saying the group was only responding to the attacks of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) since it has further stepped up its counterinsurgency operations.

“The armed clashes between the NPA and the AFP in the past days are a result of the attacks of the AFP and active defense of the NPA,” the group said.

“In fact, the AFP never went on ceasefire, even when Duterte ordered a suspension of offensive operations last March 19 to April 15, deploying troops to more than 350 barangays and 120 towns to conduct counterinsurgency, mounting at least 24 offensives and six aerial bombardments,” it added.

The CPP accused that such intensified counterinsurgency efforts by the AFP are aimed at preventing the NPA from conducting its own public health campaign in response to the COVID-19 crisis in areas where the Duterte government ‘does not exist’ and their efforts are warmly received.

Nevertheless, the party said it stands by the ceasefire order of its Central Committee that has been extended to April 30 to prioritize its own public health campaign in their villages.

While so doing: “All units of the NPA must, however, remain vigilant and on high alert against attacks of the AFP and ready to engage in battle,” the group concluded.

P4.413B out of P140B Bayanihan 2 funds released to agencies, DBM says

Robie de Guzman   •   October 21, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – More than P4 billion worth of funds allocated for novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) response and recovery efforts have been released to government agencies, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said.

The DBM issued the statement on Tuesday after some senators slammed the agency for the slow release of funds under the Republic Act No. 11494 or the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan 2), which aims to provide funds to assist sectors heavily hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) assures the Filipino people that it provides sufficient attention to the release of funds pursuant to Republic Act (RA) 11494 or the ‘Bayanihan to Recover as One Act’,” the department said.

It said that out of the P140 billion worth of COVID-19 related interventions, allotments amounting to P4.413 billion have already been released to the following agencies:

Department/AgencyAmount (in PhP)Purpose
Department of the Interior and Local Government2,522,660,000.00Hiring and training of contract tracers
Office of Civil Defense855,190,418.00Construction and maintenance of isolation facilities including billings of hotels, food and transportation
Bureau of the Treasury for the Local Government Units215,476,750.00COVID-19 Local Government Support Fund 
Department of Foreign Affairs820,000,000.00Assistance-to-Nationals Fund
Total4,413,327,168.00

“These releases were charged against the certified amount of the Bureau of the Treasury pursuant to Section 4(ss) of RA No. 11494,” the DBM said.

On the other hand, the release of funds for the following Departments/Agencies were already recommended to the Office of the President (OP):

Department/AgencyAmount (in PhP)Purpose
Department of Labor and Employment 8,000,000,000.00COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program and Tulong Panghanapbuhay Para sa Ating Displaced/Disadvantaged Workers (TUPAD) Program
Department of Social Welfare and Development6,000,000,000.00Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS) and Sustainable Livelihood Program
Department of Agriculture11,632,000,000.00Implementation of the Plant, Plant, Plant Program
Department of Health20,575,952,000.00Health-related responses such as Human Resources for health, augmentation for operations of DOH hospitals, Special Risk Allowances, Actual Hazard Duty Pay, Free life insurance, accommodation, transportation and meals for health workers, and other compensation to public and private health workers, among others
Total46,207,952,000.00

“The approval from OP was sought considering that the funding source will be the balance of pooled savings under RA No. 11469 consistent with Section 11 of RA No. 11494 and that the authority to use savings was granted by Congress to the President of the Philippines,” the DBM said.

“The corresponding Special Allotment Release Orders (SAROs) will be released as soon as we receive the pertinent OP approvals,” it added.

As to the remaining balance of the allocated amounts, the DBM expects the respective departments/agencies to submit their corresponding budget requests, outlining the specific items of expenditures, targeted beneficiaries and expected outputs consistent with existing budgeting, accounting and auditing laws, rules and regulations and reflected through their respective Budget Execution Documents and Disbursement Programs.

“As soon as these requests are received, the DBM will immediately evaluate the same to ensure their alignment with the intention of RA No. 11494 and will recommend to the President the release of funds charged against the identified funding sources,” the department said.

The DBM also said it is in close coordination with the Bureau of the Treasury to ensure that the funding sources identified under RA No. 11494 are readily available to support the allotments that the department will issue to the respective departments/agencies.

“All allotments released pursuant to RA No. 11494 will be appropriately reported to Congress and the Commission on Audit, as well as to the general public through the DBM website,” it said.

Senators earlier called on the DBM to expedite the release of COVID-19 funds under Bayanihan 2 law before it expires on December 19, 2020.

President Rodrigo Duterte signed the law on Sept. 11.

Malacañang, however, expressed its belief that funds allotted for the implementation of COVID-19 measures under the Bayanihan 2 are beyond the law’s expiration. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Application for contact tracing jobs ends Sept. 23 — DILG

Marje Pelayo   •   September 23, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) reminded on Tuesday (September 22) that applications for contact tracers in all its provincial and city field offices nationwide will end Wednesday (September 23).

The DILG was earlier authorized under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or Bayanihan 2 Law to hire at least 50,000 contact tracers to ramp up the government’s contact tracing program in the current pandemic on coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said, the additional contact tracers will greatly amplify the country’s efforts to further decrease the number of COVID-19 daily cases.

The 50,000 contact tracers to be hired will be assigned to the various contact tracing teams (CTTs) of the local government units.

Undersecretary and spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said that contractual personnel whose employment were not renewed, overseas Filipino workers whose employment were disrupted, local employees whose service have been recently terminated, and barangay health workers may be given priority in the hiring process if qualified.

To qualify, applicants must have the following credentials:

  • Must have a Bachelor’s degree or college level in an allied medical course or criminology course
  • Must be skilled in data gathering and have assisted in research and documentation; 
  • Must be able to interview COVID-19 cases and close contacts in order to gather data; 
  • Must possess the ability to advocate public health education messages;
  • Must have investigative capability.

Among their responsibilities include:

  • To conduct interviews, profiling, and perform an initial public health risk assessment of COVID-19 cases and their identified close contacts;
  • To refer the close contacts to isolation facilities; conduct enhanced contact tracing in collaboration with other agencies and private sectors;
  • To conduct daily monitoring of close and general contacts for at least 14 days, and perform such other tasks in relation to the COVID response.

Under the guidelines drafted by the DILG, the contact tracers will earn a minimum of P18,784 per month in a contract of service status. 

Philippine army withdraws martial law recommendation for Sulu

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 31, 2020

The Philippine Army has withdrawn its recommendation to re-impose martial law in Sulu province after the twin blast incident in Jolo which killed 15 and injured 74 individuals.

Army Chief LtGen. Cirilito Sobejana said they respect the decision of the national leadership as well as the sentiment of the general public.

“I drop my recommendation for martial law declaration over Sulu despite the turmoil as there might be other better options,” he said in a statement.

“I always give due respect to the wisdom of our national leadership and the sentiment of the general public but I felt it appropriate to share with you that the military had displayed utmost professionalism and maturity during our martial law implementation in Sulu when I was the JTF (Joint Task Force) Sulu Commander in 2017,” he added.

Local officials have earlier expressed their opposition to the re-imposition of martial law in Sulu. AAC (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

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