Public health info drive delayed by pandemic –Palace

Published August 17, 2020, 9:35 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

The launch of a new public health information drive has been delayed by almost a month due to compliance to the government’s procurement rules even during the coronavirus emergency, Malacanang said Monday.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque (CAMILLE ANTE / MANILA BULLETIN)

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said he thought the planned information campaign can be immediately implemented but discovered that any emergency procurement of services under the first Bayanihan law still had to undergo the process.

Roque also serves as spokesman of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Infectious Diseases (IATF).  His proposed COVID information drive, called “Ingat Buhay Para sa Hanapbuhay,” is expected to be launched soon.

“One thing I discovered, kasi nga po, tayo rin ang in charge sa strategic communication na hindi pala ibig sabihin na may Bayanihan Act puwede ka na kumuha kahit kanino. I had also to incur delay doon sa ad campaign na ilo-launch natin dahil ang ginawa namin, eh ang akala namin dahil may Bayanihan Act ay pupuwede na kaming magsabi, ‘Uy, gawa mo ako ng ganitong ad,’ at kapag nandiyan na puwede ng gamitin – hindi pala ganoon (One thing I discovered, since I am also in charge of the strategic communication, it does not mean that even if there’s the Bayanihan Act, you can tap anyone. I had also to incur delay in the ad campaign that we will launch. We thought that the Bayanhan Act allows us to say ‘Hey, make me an ad’ and if it’s ready, we can use it. That’s not possible),” Roque  said during an online press conference Monday. 

“Mayroon talagang proseso na dapat sundin maski it is considered as an emergency procurement and that caused delay of almost a month din dito sa ating proyekto na kaya na nating i-unveil (There is a process that must be followed even it is considered emergency procurement and that caused delay of almost a month in our project that we will unveil),” he added.

The Palace official gave the explanation about the need follow procurement rules while defending the government’s selection of as the country’s official tracing app.  He explained that government did not spend anything on the contact tracing app and will own the data collected from the program. 

Former Information and Communications Technology undersecretary Eliseo Rio earlier criticized the government’s alleged weak contact tracing efforts that contributed to the surge in coronavirus cases.  Rio, in a Facebook post, claimed that only “favored providers” were allowed while proposals for a better contact tracing program were prevented by the “gatekeepers” in the IATF. 

Roque however brushed aside Rio’s latest comment, saying the government had to follow procurement rules.

“Ang nangyari lang po siguro, iyong app na gusto ni Secretary Rio ay hindi po pupuwedeng pumasok even for purposes of emergency procurement.  Mayroon pa rin po tayong mga rules that we need to comply with,” he said.