=SEN. Francis ‘Kiko’ Pangilinan yesterday said Cabinet members must stop playing “Big Brother” to local government units (LGUs) in the fight against COVID-19 since doing so is a form of “micromanagement” which will only further slow down the overall government response to the still-rising number of virus infections.
In emergency situations like the current pandemic, Pangilinan said micromanaging LGUs is unnecessary as it only holds back local executives from carrying out “critical and swift actions” to address community dilemmas.
Pangilinan said local executives must be given leeway in implementing the policies of the national government since they have been at the forefront in combating the pandemic, especially in addressing the needs of their constituents, using their own resources such as calamity funds and internal revenue allocations.
“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 (People in a locality know what they need to address the crisis… If the government cannot provide needed additional resources, it would be better if national government officials do not interfere),” Pangilinan said.
The senator stressed that the IATF’s one-size-fits-all approach in the Big Brother scheme to stop the transmission of the virus could actually have a detrimental effect in helping constituents survive the crisis.
“What the national government should focus on is closely monitor over national agencies and institutions such as PhilHealth. The national government has to ensure that these agencies are performing their mandate. It should be crafting and implementing effective plans so that every peso of [the] people’s money is spent wisely, goes to the benefit of the people, and is accounted for,” Pangilinan said.
Through a resolution of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), 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 LGUs in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Rizal, Laguna and Cavite, which are all under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).
“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.
Why give more powers to those whose performance leaves much to be desired?” Pangilinan asked, as he stressed that national leaders have been given access to powers and resources to handle the pandemic and yet, still failed to reach their targets in the fight against the disease.