By Genalyn Kabiling
The government is not prohibiting or discouraging private individuals and groups from giving donations to their chosen hospitals and local government units, Malacañang said on Thursday.
The private sector may still make their donations to intended beneficiaries as every help to address the coronavirus pandemic is welcome, according to presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo.
Panelo made the clarification after President Duterte tasked the Office of the Civil Defense (OCD) to consolidate, keep an inventory, and distribute medicines and medical supplies, and equipment donated to the national government. The designation of the OCD is part of Administrative Order No. 27 that laid down the framework on the management of medical donations given to the national government.
“The national government is not dissuading private organizations and individuals to receive or give donations to hospitals of their choice, as well as to their local government units. They are in fact encouraged as every help from all sectors is welcome,” Panelo said.
“Administrative Order No. 27 does not prohibit nor discourage such acts. It is meant to streamline the process of donations to the national government in order that health items may timely reach the intended facilities and beneficiaries,” he added.
Panelo also denied that the President’s former assistant and now Senator Christopher Go was interfering with the task of the OCD in handling the donations so that credit will go to him. He insisted that Go has “no access” to the 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,” Panelo said.
“Nor will Department of National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana allow an intrusion from the outside regarding the work of the Office of the Civil Defense. Senator Go has his own group of friends who are giving and receiving donations, and delivering them straight to their intended beneficiaries,” he added.
Panelo explained that the management of the donations to the national government was given to OCD because the Department of Health is already “overwhelmed with work” concerning public health.
He said the OCD is assisted by the Department of National Defense led by Secretary Delfin Lorenzana “as they have the discipline, the personnel, and the transport facilities to effect their deliveries to all the hospitals in the shortest possible time.”
Panelo also dismissed as false information reports that the importation of donated medical items has been put on hold at the Bureau of Customs (BOC) until Go supposedly places his name on the packages prior to release and distribution. He said the customs bureau has actually doubled its efforts to hasten the entry of donated items so these can immediately reach health facilities.
Don’t spread fake information
Panelo appealed to netizens to be “circumspect” in reading text messages or social media posts. He cautioned that re-posting or spreading of false information make them similarly liable for transgression of the law.
“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,” he said.
“Let us all unite, not only in action and prayers in defeating this faceless enemy, but also in nipping in the bud any false news or bogus narrative from spreading,” he added.