Drilon, Pangilinan to DILG: Focus on COVID-19, not Cha-cha
MANILA, Philippines — Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Senator Francis Pangilinan on Sunday criticized the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) for its reported move to push for Charter change (Cha-cha) amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, dismissing talks about Cha-cha as the “height of insensitivity” and an “insult” to Filipinos who have lost their jobs because of the health crisis.
For Drilon, DILG’s action amid the coronavirus pandemic is “a total waste of time and resources.”
“Habang ang mga Pilipino ay wala nang makain at nawalan ng trabaho, isusubo natin itong Cha-cha? (While Filipinos no longer have anything to eat and are jobless, we will instead give them Cha-cha?)” he said in a statement.
“We are in the middle of a pandemic. The country is grappling to contain COVID-19 and deal with its aftermath. To talk about Cha-cha is the height of insensitivity,” he added.
The DILG reportedly directed its regional offices and supporters to continue gathering up to 2 million signatures over the next two months to back amendments to the Constitution or what the department calls constitutional reform (CORE).
Drilon warned the DILG not to use activities against the pandemic to promote Cha-cha and advance its agenda, saying “it will only create distraction, division, and unnecessary noise.”
“The Congress and the executive branch should work together to pursue legislation that will help revive the economy and restore the jobs temporarily and permanently lost due to the pandemic. That should be the focus, not Cha-cha,” he added.
Instead of talking about Cha-cha, Drilon said all efforts of the government should be geared towards addressing the crisis and paving the road for economic recovery.
He cited budget deficit, inflation, unemployment, and rising poverty as among the urgent matters that the executive branch of the government and the Congress should deal with.
“Our resources are depleting and the President said so. We have a long battle ahead with regard to dealing with this pandemic. All agencies should exercise prudence and wise judgment in the use of public funds, most especially in this most trying time in our history as a nation,” he said.
In a separate statement, Pangilinan added that Charter change “should be the least of our concerns today.”
“The current effort is out of touch with current realities and is an insult to millions of our citizens who have lost their jobs, who are experiencing unprecedented hunger and who continue to be threatened by the spread of this incurable disease,” he said.
“Instead of using govt (government) money and personnel on collecting millions of signatures, the DILG should instead focus on mass testing and contact-tracing millions of our citizens both of which up until now remains to be undertaken in full two months after the law granting Malacañang special powers to use billions of pesos to address the pandemic was passed,” he added.
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