By Hannah Torregoza
Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara on Friday welcomed President Duterte’s decision to extend the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) to another 15 days as this could finally help put an end to the coronavirus or COVID-19 crisis in the country.
Angara said the President is just exercising the required caution and diligence of a good father of a family in declaring an extension of the ECQ.
“The decision was based on consultations with several experts and department heads based on the data on cases as well as the experience of other countries I’m sure,” Angara said in a statement.
“Countries which relaxed their quarantines too early saw early gains being erased by virus outbreaks,” he said.
Between now and April 30, with hope, Angara said the government, aided by media, should advise local government units (LGUs), especially barangay officials on the do’s and don’ts of this new animal called general community quarantine (GCQ).
“Otherwise, baka hapi hapi ulit and magkahawaan. It’s important to remember that we are only as strong as our weakest links.
Given the low distribution rate of 20 percent for cash assistance, perhaps government can also focus on how to speed this up going forward,” he said.
Angara also said he is confident that lawmakers are amenable to passing a supplemental budget that would address the government’s needs to combat the COVID-19 crisis.
“If a supplemental budget is needed, I’m sure both houses of Congress will hear and pass that to authorize the President and the Executive branch to spend more or to realign from existing budgetary items,” Angara said.
“This is to meet the challenges posed by the virus, which were unknown when we passed the 2020 budget and we acknowledge that the President may need some flexibility to react to future contingencies,” he stressed.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III, in a separate statement, said the Senate is ready to do its part in approving a supplemental budget to augment the government’s resources for its COVID-19 response.
On Friday morning, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III claimed the government has “sufficient” cash available but they lacked the authority to use it for the pandemic.
According to Dominguez, the government’s task force has so far spent P352.7-billion as part of its COVID-19 response.