By Hanah Tabios
Opposition lawmakers defended Vice President Leni Robredo after a ranking official of the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) asked the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to launch a probe against her relief drive for frontline health workers on the ongoing campaign to stem the tide of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Vice President’s initiatives in helping out our health workers and frontliners complement the efforts of the national government,” Senator Risa Hontiveros said in a tweet, citing that forms of assistance should not be treated as a competition.
“Hindi kailangan ng inggitan ngayon. Ang talo kasi dito ay ang mga Pilipinong naghihingalo sa gitna ng COVID-19 crisis
(We don’t have to be envious at this time [because] the ones who will be on the losing end are the Filipinos who are struggling amid the COVID-19 contagion),” she added.
Senator Francis Pangilinan also criticized PACC Manuelito Luna for his recent statement against Robredo.
“Puwede ba PACC tumulong na lang kayo? Huwag niyo na dagdagan ang kapalpakan. Hindi kayo nakakatulong. Magsi-ayos kayo (PACC, please extend help. Do not add to the people’s due to shortfall in ongoing aid efforts. Your actuations are not helpful. Act accordingly),” he said.
Human rights lawyer Atty. Chel Diokno and former Solicitor General Florin “Pilo” Hilbay, also defended efforts of the office of the Vice President to aid the frontliners.
Both of them questioned Luna’s basis in seeking an NBI investigation, saying that there is nothing illegal in Robredo’s initiatives.
Even social media users, media practitioners, and celebrities expressed outrage and dismay over Luna’s pronouncements.
Luna said NBI should investigate Robredo for alleged “illegal solicitations, actions that compete with, or calculated to undermine national government efforts in this time of public health emergency or national calamity.”
“Being a part of the national government, Robredo is barred from competing with the DOH (Department of Health), DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) and OCD (Office of Civil Defense-NDRRMC (National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), or undermining their efforts, and from soliciting donations, in cash or in kind, from the taxpaying public, especially since funds have already been appropriated or set aside for relief assistance, disaster mitigation, rehabilitation,” he added.
Over the past weeks, Robredo’s office has been actively assisting hospitals, healthcare facilities band health workers by providing PPEs, free shuttle services, and even free dormitories.