Ping: Bayanihan report had no concrete action plan

    Senator Ping Lacson wants to extend the Bayanihan Act. (Photo Senate of the Philippines)

    SEN. Panfilo ‘”Ping” Lacson on Wednesday said Malacañang should submit a more detailed report on its implementation of strategies and programs out under the Bayanihan Act which aims to control the growing number of novel coronavirus infections.

    Lacson said a thorough review of the 18-page document submitted by President Duterte to Congress showed the report lacked concrete action plans for the implementation of three priority programs against the COVID-19.

    The report was in compliance with the new law’s transparency and accountability provisions. It was submitted to Congress early Tuesday, one week after the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act was signed into law.

    Lacson said the President’s initial report listed down three priority programs the government wants to undertake to combat COVID-19: provision of emergency assistance to affected sectors, securing facilities and resources for the health sector, and performing fiscal and monetary actions for the economy.

    “There does not appear to be an action plan for each of them.  This must be spelled out in the next report to Congress,” Lacson said.

    Lacson said the lack of planning and coordination “threatens to defeat the purpose of the urgency of RA 11469 (Bayanihan to Heal as One Act) – that is to resolve and fight the virus by way of smooth and expeditious implementation.”

    “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 added.

    Lacson urged government leaders to come up with an overall plan to mitigate the risks and minimize or stop the spread of COVID-19, including a detailed presentation of how funds will be disbursed and used by implementing agencies.

    “The same must be made public for transparency,” he said, adding: “The executive department should provide Congress with a clearer picture of the COVID-19 situation and a progress update of implementation such as how many have been tested, number of displaced families and workers per region, and its impact on the country’s economy, including the steps undertaken to adapt to the developing situation, in its next report.”

    He said that since the Food and Drugs Administration has approved the use of rapid test kits, it should come up with clearer guidelines on its use and usefulness.

    He said that the immediate implementation of the Bayanihan Act’s provision on Special Risk Allowance must be prioritized.

    The provision states that hazard pay and other benefits must be granted to both private and public health workers especially those who have been infected or have died in the line of duty.

    Under the provision, health workers infected with the virus will receive P100,000 cash assistance, while those who died will get P1 million.  This will be retroactive staring February.