Using COVID-19 to advance political agenda

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    THERE is nothing more despicable than people who use tragedy to advance their political interests.

    The past days, we have read pleas by our frontliners for the diminishing supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE), medical equipment and supplies as many of their colleagues succumb to the virus.

    Everybody knows the gravity of the situation. The public is cooperating with the government, accepting the prohibition of movement, giving allowance to the lack of direction and incompetence of the country’s leadership.

    But there are things that we cannot just turn a blind eye to.

    President Duterte signed on March 31 Administrative Order 27 “Establishing a framework for the acceptance, management, distribution and delivery of all medicines, medical equipment and supplies, and other health products donated to the national government or the Department of Health for addressing the COVID-19 situation.”

    One of the premises of the AO is “ there is an imperative need to properly consolidate and manage all donations, medical equipment and supplies, and other health products to address COVID-19, whether given to the national Government as a whole or to the Department of Health (DOH) specifically, and assist the latter in the efficient and expeditious delivery of assistance to the public during the State of National Emergency.”

    The AO orders the consolidation of donations in the Office of Civil Defense headed by the Defense Secretary.

    “All donations to the National Government or the DOH of medicines, medical equipment and supplies, and other health products intended to address the COVID-19 situation, whether received or accepted from foreign governments, private entities, non-government organizations, or any group or individual, shall be coordinated with and transmitted to the OCD for consolidation,” AO27 said.

    AO27 also states that “The Department of National Defense shall provide the necessary logistical support to the OCD for the immediate consolidation, distribution, and delivery of the donated medicines, medical equipment and supplies, and other health products to the identified beneficiary facilities, groups or establishments.”

    Chat groups in social media yesterday was abuzz with unverified accounts complete with photos of donations of medical equipment and supplies being repackaged to carry the name of Sen. Christopher Bong Go.

    There was one photo for of a donation of “400 pcs. of surgical mask” for Bacoor Doctors Medical Center from “Senator Bong Go.” Underneath Go’s names are the words “Thru Lucio Tan Group of Companies and PMFTC Inc.”

    Go, in a Facebook post, denied that donations are being diverted into his Malasakit, which was not the rumors were about.

    Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo came to Go’s defense. In a statement, he said “there is a false information being circulated that Administrative Order No. 27 was issued to provide Senator Christopher Lawrence T. Go an avenue where he can manage the donations and be given credit for the same. There is also an untrue news that the importation of medical and health items into the country meant for donation are being put on hold at the Bureau of Customs (BOC) until the good senator places his name to the packages prior to their release and distribution.”

    “The spread of these fake information is malicious and obviously done by the negative forces and detractors of the Duterte Administration and its allies, designed to create confusion and foment hate against the government,” Panelo further said.

    He stressed: “Senator Go has no access to OCD. And even if he has, by reason of his position, he will not interfere with the task of the OCD, such interference being out of his character.”

    There is, however, a March 31 news item by the Malacañang’s Philippine News Agency, about a donation by Go of “composed of 750 pieces of protective suit; 5, 250 pieces of face mask; 1,600 pairs of gloves; and 200 pairs of shoe covers” to various hospitals in the Cordillera Administrative Region.

    The photo caption read “Personnel from the Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council in La Trinidad, Benguet load their share of the donation from Senator Christopher Lawrence ‘Bong’ Go on Tuesday which was transported to the city with the help of the Cordillera Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council and the Office of the Civil Defense. “

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