By Genalyn Kabiling
The country might collapse early if people will listen only to the pronouncements of “idiots” and the “insane,” President Duterte warned on Thursday.
The President said the government is trying to save the economy and the country amid the coronavirus pandemic but will need the cooperation of the public.
“Alam mo kung hindi kayo makinig (You know if you don’t listen) and if you persist on listening to the idiots of this world, itong mga Pilipino, talagang madali ang pagbabagsak natin. (these Filipinos, we might really have an early downfall),” he said in a taped public address aired on state-owned People’s Television network past midnight.
“Basta ako sabi ko sa akin (I said) it’s up to the Filipino people. If you decide to listen to the insane, Pamatong and company, pati ‘yung congressman diyan, eh ‘di doon kayo (and the congressman there, then go ahead),” he said.
Duterte made the remarks after lashing out at a lawmaker for questioning his statement about the government’s limited funds for coronavirus response. He likewise poked fun at Elly Pamatong, the self-proclaimed president who claimed he can solve the coronavirus pandemic in a few weeks.
In his remarks, the President explained that government would still have to raise revenues to fund the P300 billion authorized in the Bayanihan law to combat the coronavirus pandemic. He later announced that he might be forced to sell government assets just to raise more funds.
“‘Yung pinagdadaldal ng isang congressman na ulol, torpe, na may 300 billion ibinigay ng Kongreso, hangin ho lahat ‘yan. Wala pa ‘yang pera na ‘yan dito (The comments of the foolish and cowardly congressman that Congress 300 billion, that’s nothing but air. The money is still not there),” he said.
“Wala tayong kinikita ngayon. Ano ‘yung budget na sinasabi niyang intelligence fund, wala pa ‘yan, kokolektahin pa ‘yan para sa second quarter at magkolekta para sa third quarter. (We are not earning now. What intelligence funds is he talking about? It’s still not there. We will still collect the money for the second quarter, collect for the third quarter),” he said.
Duterte did not identify the lawmaker who drew his ire for his budget comments.
Congress recently granted the President additional powers to address the coronavirus pandemic, including the power to realign items in the national budget respond to the health emergency.
As the government extended the Luzon-wide lockdown to curb the disease outbreak, the President recently admitted that the P270 billion authorized in the Bayanihan law would not be enough for the coronavirus response. He has directed Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez to source additional funds, including resources for relief measures for affected sectors.
Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman earlier proposed a P1-trillion stimulus package for the government to sustain social and labor amelioration program and extend a lifeline to businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Lagman said the funds could be sourced from the sale of government assets, tapping the country’s foreign reserves, issuance of government bonds, expansion of the tax amnesty law,
grant of tax credit or discounts for advance payments, advances of dividends due to the national government from state corporations, contributions from Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), budget savings from reduction of procurement of military and IT equipment as well foreign travel and seminars,
and reduction in personal services by not creating new positions and not filling up vacant positions.
Former Quezon Rep. Erin Tañada has also urged the President should divert P4.5 billion intelligence fund of his office to bankroll the COVID-19 emergency measures. Tañada, Liberal Party vice president for external affairs, said the funds of the Office of the President can be used to purchase additional coronavirus test kits.
The President, however, tried to assure the public that the government would look for funds to boost the coronavirus response. He expressed hope that the people will support by following the law and not causing any trouble.
“So you listen very carefully because we are trying to save not only the economy but the country. Help the country alive. I am not asking you to help the economy, wala kayong maitulong pati ako),” he said.
“So you just try to — you know, do something that is not precipitate statement that would cause trouble na manggaling doon ang problema kasi mahihirapan na tuloy tayo. (because we will have harder time addressing the problem),” he said.
“In the meantime, we help each other as one nation. Hindi ako mag-ano kung… If you still want a quarrel, go ahead. I said, there will be a time for that kung mag-survive tayo (if we surive),” he added.