Lacson backs gov’t move to block release of P80-B congressional realignments

Robie de Guzman   •   February 19, 2020   •   350

Senator Panfilo Lacson

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson on Wednesday revealed that at least P80 billion in congressional realignments have been withheld by President Rodrigo Duterte and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

In a statement, Lacson said some lawmakers tried to realign at least P80 billion from the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” program to their districts’ “pet projects” under the P4.1 trillion 2020 national budget.

But instead of exercising his veto power over the line items which could stall the approval of the budget, the lawmaker said Duterte decided to just block the release of the budget by way of a DBM circular now called “for later release,” which has the same effect of a veto.

“I support the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte and the Department of Budget and Management to withhold the release of these congressional realignments,” he said.

“This is one reason why I continue to support the leadership of President Duterte in spite of some disagreements with him over some policy issues: He has time and again displayed the strong political will, even against many self-proclaimed allies in Congress whose loyalty clearly lies where the money lies,” he added.

Lacson advised the president to “always be wary of these so-called allies” who have the propensity to praise him to high heavens and never criticize him but with self-aggrandizement and greed as their only motivation and nothing else.

The House of Representatives has yet to issue a comment on Lacson’s claim. – RRD (with details form Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

Duterte cancels planned trip to Davao this week to lead COVID-19 response – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   April 8, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte won’t push through with his plan to fly to his hometown in Davao City this week as he continues to lead the government’s response against novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Malacañang said on Wednesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Duterte will stay in Manila this week instead of going to Davao City for the birthday of his youngest daughter, Veronica so he could continue monitoring and give directives in line with the COVID-19 crisis.

“Dito lang po siya sa Maynila upang madalian na mabigyan ng madaliang katugunan ang anumang uri ng suliraning ipapaabot sa kaniya. Siya po ay araw-araw nagmomonitor ng mga kaganapan natin,” Panelo said in a virtual presser.

He also assured the public that the president remains fit and healthy even if he is not sleeping well amid the public health emergency.

Meanwhile, Panelo denied claims that Duterte downplayed the threat of coronavirus, stressing that the president’s actions depended on the development of the situation and pronouncements of the World Health Organization.

“Depende po kasi sa sitwasyon, kaya si President noon, sumusunod lamang siya sa takbo ng patakaran ng World Jealth Organization at nakikita niya sa kaniyang kapaligiran,” he said.

The Palace official urged critics to provide suggestions instead of criticizing the government’s measures in combating the COVID-19 crisis. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Gov’t extends Luzon lockdown to April 30 — IATF

Marje Pelayo   •   April 7, 2020

(UPDATED) MANILA, Philippines – Luzon residents may have to endure two more weeks at home as President Rodrigo Duterte extends the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) confirmed this on Tuesday (April 7).

“Ito po ang rekomendasyon ng IATF kay Presidente na tinggap ng President,” IATF-EID Spokesperson and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said.

“Vinerify po naming uli at ang sagot po ay ang enhanced community quarantine is hereby extended until 11:50 pm of April 30,” he added.

In his public address on Monday evening (April 6), the President asked the public for more patience and understanding and to be more cooperative with the national government in the face of a health crisis brought about by the deadly coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The President, likewise, reiterated his call for the public to stay at home as the solution to this global pandemic is simply to “not get infected.”

He noted the sad reality of COVID-19 patients passing without having a funeral service as their remains go straight to cremation.

Duterte admitted that even the national government is getting ‘desperate’ as it has limited resources to distribute to millions of Filipinos affected by the crisis.

The President added that the P275-B budget that Congress authorized him to spend is not enough and would be gone in two months.

Thus, he asked the Department of Finance to find ways to generate revenues.

“We are finding ways to adjust the budget. We will prioritize the people, the stomach. If they have nothing to eat, a human being can become violent,” he added.

He appealed to those who have more to give to those in need and asked the Filipino people to pray for the country and the world in the face of this global pandemic.

“I am calling on the nation to come together and pay tribute to the indomitable spirit of the Filipino and unite in one prayer to God to fight our common enemy,” he concluded. MNP (with input from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte, Cabinet members pledge salaries for COVID-19 response

Marje Pelayo   •   April 6, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte announced he is giving his one month salary amounting to P400,000 to help in the implementation of the national government’s action plan in fight against coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Meanwhile, other members of the President’s Cabinet also have agreed to give 75% of their monthly salaries from April to December of this year as support, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.

Panelo added that other department secretaries also agreed to share by giving a portion of their respective salaries.

Meanwhile, members of the House of Representatives are targeting to raise P100-M to boost financial aid to those affected by the pandemic.

About 200 congressmen have pledged to donate their full salary for the month of May to help the government’s efforts against COVID-19.

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said they are raising an initial P50-M from the lawmakers while they plan to source out the other 50-M from other private individuals and groups to complete the P100-M pledge.

Cayetano said they are set to discuss on Wednesday as to which particular government effort they would donate the fund.

Ayaw naman namin na halimbawa bumili ng PPEs iyon pala may P5-B or P2-B worth of PPEs o kaya bumili ng pagkain iyon pala may provisions na sa pagkain,” Cayetano said.

“We want to use the money where it will be most effective,” he added.

Malacanang, meanwhile, is pleased with the support from other branches of government.

“The Office of the President is pleased to know that the two other branches of the government have their own program of helping the battle against COVID-19 even as we acknowledge the support given by various heads of offices and agencies in their personal capacities to thwart the COVID-19 pandemic,” Panelo said. MNP (with inputs from Rosalie Coz)

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