Senators back possible sale of gov’t assets to ramp up COVID-19 response
MANILA, Philippines — Two senators on Thursday backed a possible sale of government assets as a last resort should funds for the country’s battle against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) run out.
President Rodrigo Duterte, in a televised address late Wednesday night, said he is ready to sell properties of the government to help the people affected by the pandemic.
In a text message to INQUIRER.net, Senate Minority Franklin Drilon said he agrees with Duterte, adding that the COVID-19 crisis should be taken as an “opportunity to better utilize (government) assets.”
“I agree. Let us turn this COVID crises into an opportunity to better (utilize government) assets. Better utilization of these (assets) is long overdue as a national policy,” Drilon said.
“To start with, we should privatize (Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation) and dispose of Camp Aguinaldo and Camp Crame. Remember Fort Bonifacio, now BGC (Bonifacio Global City)?,” he further said.
For his part, Senator Panfilo Lacson said Duterte’s pronouncement was “a mark of a true leader.”
“This is a time for the survival of our people and the whole country as well and he must think of anything, even the most extraordinary measure to save us all,” Lacson told INQUIRER.netin a text message.
Asked if he agrees with the chief executive, the senator said: “Yes.”
“I would have done the same for my men in my previous life if it came to that – and even with my Senate staff now,” he added.
Some senators have earlier assured that the government has enough money to fund the fight against COVID-19.
This after Duterte, in a separate televised speech, asked Finance Secretary Carlos “Sonny” Dominguez III to source more funds for the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, saying that the around P270 billion already allotted was “not enough.”
The P270 billion budget for the government’s COVID-19 response efforts was part of Republic Act No. 11469, or the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act, which granted Duterte special powers to allocate it.
To date, Philippine health officials have so far confirmed 3,870 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the country.
Of the number, 182 patients have died while 96 have already recovered from the disease.
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