Dissent, LGU initiatives in danger with Bayanihan bill, says solon
MANILA, Philippines – The Bayanihan bill may be dangerous for people expressing dissent towards the government’s policies amid the COVID-19 outbreak, Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas warned in a statement issued on Tuesday.
Certain provisions in the bill, Brosas said, would penalize spreading fake news about the COVID-19. However, she said that this might be used to target people on social media who had been opposing the administration’s moves.
“This draconian power may be abused to clamp down on social media dissent especially now that criticisms on the government’s mishandling of the COVID-19 crisis are blowing up in several online platforms,” Brosas said.
But aside from that, Brosas stressed that even local government units might be penalized if they would contradict national government orders just because they adjusted their initiatives for their localities.
“Under such emergency power, local government officials risk being booted out from their post for merely adjusting their COVID-19 response to the specific needs of their jurisdiction,” the lawmaker said.
“Hindi na lang parinig kundi parusa at pagpapatalsik ang maaring abutin ng LGU officials. Lalong hihigpit ang hawak ng Pangulo sa leeg ng mga LGU,” she noted.
Recently, several local government units were reminded by President Rodrigo Duterte to follow national policies relating to the COVID-19 outbreak.
This developed after Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto requested the national government to allow the use of tricycles to ferry health workers, as the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) had paralyzed transportation systems all over Luzon.
The Bayanihan to Heal As One Bill, aimed at giving Duterte more powers to address the COVID-19 problem, was approved by both the House of Representatives and the Senate after a special session on Monday.
The measure gives Duterte the authority to realign and reallocate items in the 2020 national budget for projects that would fight the spread of COVID-19.
However, several opposition groups have been wary of the additional powers, saying they would not be needed at the moment and they might be prone to abuse. However, Malacañang officials insisted that Duterte would need such powers, especially in a worst-case scenario.
As of this writing, Luzon is still under the ECQ due to the rising COVID-19 cases. The Department of Health said that there are already 552 confirmed cases in the Philippines, 35 of whom have already died and 20 have recovered.
Worldwide, over 370,000 COVID-19 cases have been recorded, while 16,228 patients have died, and another 97,677 patients have recovered.
The COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus that first emerged inWuhan City in Hubei province in China in late 2019.
The International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses named the novel coronavirus as SARS-CoV-2.
The coronavirus is a family of viruses with surfaces having a crown-like appearance. The viruses are named for the spikes on their surfaces.
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