Senator Christopher “Bong” Go has appealed to lawmakers to pursue its investigation into the alleged discrepancies in the Department of Health’s (DOH) utilization of its COVID-19 funds, but without hampering the government’s pandemic response efforts.
“Ngayon, nasa public health emergency tayo, pandemya ang kalaban natin at hindi ang isa’t isa. Ito ang panahon ng pagtutulungan at pagbabayanihan. Huwag nating sayangin ang oras sa siraan at sisihan (Now that we are in a public health emergency, our enemy is the pandemic. This is the time to be united. Let’s not waste time to destroy and blame each other). We cannot afford to fail dahil buhay ang nakasalalay dito (because lives are at stake here),” said Go in an interview on Saturday.
“Ako naman, bilang isang senador, patuloy akong magiging tulay sa Pangulo. Pero siyempre, uunahin kong ipagtanggol ‘yung independence ng Senado, ng buong Kongreso, as a separate branch ng government at naiintindihan rin ‘yon ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte (As a senator I will continue to be a bridge to the President. But of course, I will defend the Senate and the whole Congress’ independence, as a separate branch of government and President Duterte also understands that),” he added.
Go, who heads the Senate committee on health and demography, said he is only questioning the timing of the Senate blue ribbon committee’s investigation into the Commission on Audit’s (COA) report on the DOH’s COVID-19 funds.
“Sang-ayon po ako sa ginagawa namin dito sa Senado. Ang tanong lang dito is timing lang po (I agree with what the Senate is doing. The only question is the timing),” he pointed out.
“Hindi lang maiwasan minsan lalo na ngayon na palapit na ang eleksyon, mayroon pong mga… hindi lang masabi sa ngayon, (pero) maaaring gustong tumakbo… (You can’t avoid it whenever election is near, when there are lawmakers who cannot just say it right now, but are eager to run in the elections),” he said.
Go noted some lawmakers are already coming up with premature judgments based on still inconclusive data.
“‘Yung problema katulad nitong sa COA is procedural palang ito. So, ibig sabihin, pwede pang i-rectify (The problem cited by COA is procedural. So it means, it can still be rectified),” he said.
“Ang nangyayari, nagkakaroon kaagad ng husgahan. Papaano gagalaw ang DOH o iba pang departamento kung gano’n ang mangyayari? (What happens is they are unfairly judged. How can the DOH or other departments do their job if that is what will happen)?” asked Go.
“Pwede naman kasuhan at ikulong kung may kasalanan. Pero masyado pang premature. Bigyan muna natin sila ng pagkakataon na magpaliwanag at tulungan natin silang maisaayos pa lalo ang ating (They can file cases and put to jail those who are responsible. But it’s still premature. Let’s give them some time to explain and help them carry out our) COVID-19 response efforts,” he appealed.
Go also called for restraint and sobriety, warning that the ongoing investigations should not compromise or hamper the implementation of the government’s COVID-19 response programs.
“Sa ngayon, takot ang nasa Executive gumalaw. Takot silang bumili, takot nang pumirma dahil naiipit sila. So, sinong magsa-suffer dito? Yung mga kababayan natin na umaasa ng pondo at serbisyo ng (As of now, the Executive department is afraid to move. They are afraid to buy, they are afraid to sign contracts. So, who will suffer here? It’s the people who are waiting for funds and services from the) Executive department,” he reiterated.