A COMMISSIONER of the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) on Thursday, April 2, urged the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to investigate Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo over alleged illegal solicitations and for competing with government efforts to address the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak.
Another PACC commissioner, however, was quick to clarify that the call of PACC Commissioner Manuelito Luna was his “personal opinion” and did not reflect the sentiments of the commission.
In a statement issued Thursday, Luna said the vice president’s relief efforts are “calculated to undermine” national government efforts to combat the Covid-19 outbreak.
“The National Bureau of Investigation should investigate Vice-President Leni Robredo for illegal solicitations, actions that compete with, or calculated to undermine, national government efforts in this time of public health emergency or national calamities, such as OVP’s free shuttle service and dormitories for health workers, and PPEs for health workers,” Luna said.
PACC Commissioner Greco Belgica, in another statement, said the commission is “not asking anyone to investigate VP Leni Robredo”.
“This is not the time for politicking. We are not concerned with any personality. Our main concern is to make sure all the needy Filipinos get all the help they need the President promised. Our concern is to end this Covid-19 (outbreak),” Belgica said.
Robredo has yet to issue a statement.
The Office of the Vice President was the first to launch free shuttle services in Metro Manila for healthcare workers, essential personnel and other individuals who still need to move about the metropolis despite the declaration of an enhanced community quarantine.
Under an enhanced community quarantine, public transportation systems are suspended and most of Luzon’s over 53 million people are required to stay at home as a measure to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, the infectious pathogen that causes Covid-19.
Robredo’s office has also been distributing personal protective equipment (PPEs) to various health facilities.
The national government, on the other hand, received its first PPE shipment only on March 31. The 15,000 PPEs will be distributed to referral hospitals for Covid-19 patients.
These are among the one million PPEs worth P1.8 billion that the Department of Health (DOH) has ordered. The remaining 985,000 sets are scheduled to arrive between April 6 to 24.
Luna said Robredo should not compete nor undermine the efforts of the DOH and other national government agencies to address the outbreak.
He said Robredo is also “barred from soliciting donations, in cash or in kind, from the taxpaying public, especially since funds have already been appropriated or set aside for relief assistance, disaster mitigation, rehabilitation.”
By doing so, Robredo may have violated the guidelines set by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), the primary government body tasked to supervise efforts to stop Covid-19, Luna added.
The Philippines is under a state of national emergency, state of public health emergency and state of calamity because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
These declarations allow government to tap calamity and quick response funds to finance efforts to contain the disease.
A total of 2,311 persons in the Philippines have been infected with the new coronavirus, including 96 who had died and 50 who have survived.
Globally, 40,598 individuals had died from Covid-19 while a total of 823,626 persons have contracted the new coronavirus as of March 31, 2020. (Jove T. Moya/SunStar Philippines)