The minority bloc in the House of Representatives on Wednesday, July 28 painted a picture that contradicted what President Rodrigo Duterte described as the state of the nation on Monday.
In the traditional “Contra SONA”, Minority Leader and Abang Lingkod Partylist Rep. Joseph “Caraps” Paduano decried government’s belated and slow response to the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis.
He noted that the sluggish procurement of vaccines was made worse by the disparity in the distribution of the small amount of deliveries, with Metro Manila not only being prioritized but also getting the lion’s share of the supply.
The unfair situation is similar to the implementation of infrastructure programs, with the provinces, especially in Mindanao, receiving less.
“It is very glaring that having a Mindanaoan President did not tilt the balance in favor of the provinces. Imperial Manila is very much alive,” Paduano said.
Paduano admitted there has been positive outcome in Duterte’s war on drugs but this resulted in the deaths of thousands that included the innocent.
`”The case of (Kian) De los Santos was only one of the thousands of “nanlaban” stories put forth by the police after every deadly operation,” he said.
It will be recalled that De los Santos, 17, was murdered by police anti-drugs operatives i Caloocan City in August 16, 2017.
According to him Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra’s admission that operation protocols were not followed in many drug-related deaths had confirmed the claim of United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet that police officers planted guns beside bodies of suspects who were killed in alleged shootouts.
Paduano said the issuance by President Duterte of executive orders increasing the Minimum Access Volume for pork importation was a wrong move because the African Swine Disease that triggered a crisis in pork supply was traced to imported meat from China.
“The erroneous learning modules distributed to the students and their lack of gadgets for online instructions under the distance learning scheme had worsened the already deteriorating standard of education in the country,” he stated.
According to Paduano the president’s failure to make clear his stand on the proposed postponement of the elections of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao indicate that he favors it.
However, the partylist lawmaker slammed the proposed extension of the term of office of incumbent BARMM officials as “evidential proof of the slow-paced normalization process” in the region.
He said the peace and internal conflict situation of the country has been perplexing especially due to the fact that the Duterte administration has refused to discuss peace with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front.
Instead, government created the well-funded National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) to neutralize the communist insurgents.
“It is peace with Muslim secessionists but war against the communist rebels,” Paduano pointed out.
He added: “It’s a ‘win some, lose some’ situation fro the Philippines peace initiative.” Paduano also assailed Duterte’s foreign policy as “baffling.” “While the government has been trumpeting its so-called independent foreign policy, it flip-flopped on critical issues, particularly on the West Philippine Sea claim.” lamented the opposition solon.