Controversial solon’s anti-COVID bill gets no love

Published March 22, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Ellson Quismorio 

Even when he means well, Ang Probinsyano Party-List Rep. Alfred delos Santos can’t seem to shake off the bad image that he saddled himself with after he swung his fist at a waiter in Legazpi City last year.

The Joint Session of the Senate and the House of Representatives on the extension of Martial Law in Mindanao commences in the Plenary of the Batasang Pambansa on December 13, 2017. (ALVIN KASIBAN / MANILA BULLETIN)

Delos Santos recently filed a measure that seeks to penalize any person who would deliberately withhold important information regarding a contagious illness, such as the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19), that would result in the transmission of the disease to the attending health worker or other patients within the same medical facility.

Former Kabataan Party-List congressman, lawyer Terry Ridon has pounced on Delos Santos’s measure, describing it as an attempt at grandstanding or “pabida.”

Ridon, former chairman of the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor, criticized the timing of the lawmaker’s filing of the bill, saying it’s “not the right time” for such measure since the government is trying to avert a full-blown health sector crisis.

The bill seeks mandatory full disclosure of the travel history of persons under investigation (PUIs) with COVID-19 in the effort to stop the spread of the virus to medical frontline workers. The World Health Organization (WHO) had earlier declared the incurable, vaccine-less disease as a pandemic.

“Today is not the time for ‘pabida’ bills like this, when there is an actual health crisis before all of us, and Congress is not in session to deliberate the matter, even to put a number on the bill,” said Ridon.

Instead, Ridon called on Ang Probinsyano Party-List to fulfill its promise and make public its report and recommended sanctions for the neophyte solon’s unparliamentary behavior last July 2019 when he tried to punch 20-year-old waiter Christian Kent Alejo at Biggs Diner.

“I believe he should come clean first to avoid any public suspicions that he was merely grandstanding with his initiatives,” the lawyer stressed.

The Bigg Diner incident occurred just week after Delos Santos won a House seat in the 2019 midterm polls. In fact he was yet to attend a single session as an elected congressman.

A closed circuit television (CCTV) footage of the attempted punching incident went viral last year, causing Delos Santos to become a pariah of sorts in the House of Representatives.

Delos Santos has since personally apologized to Alejo, even visiting him at the latter’s home and posing for pictures. He acknowledged that he “lost control of his emotions,” but maintained that he was neither a troublemaker nor a bully.

The rookie solon has kept a low profile for most of the current 18th Congress.

Earlier, Emily Sandoval of People for Empowerment and Truth (PET) also prodded Ang Probinsyano Party-List to bare the results of its probe in the name of justice. “Sana naman ay ilabas na sa lalong madaling panahon ng Ang Probinsyano Party-List ang resulta ng kanilang imbestigasyon kaugnay ng insidente sa ngalan ng hustisya at pagkakapantay-pantay [sa batas] (I hope Ang Probinsyano Party-List immediately release the results of their investigation on the incident in the name of peace and equality before the law),” she said.