ONE of the first social groups to step up and fight the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) here in the Philippines were the business sectors. Silently, they’ve converted their manufacturing companies into armamentarium to fight the dreaded disease. I hope they won’t reach the stage of donor fatigue.
The president’s spokesperson announced that PRRD would donate his month’s salary to the Covid-19 response. The executive branch has set to realign its budget for emergency subsidy calling it the largest social protection program in Philippine history. Majority, if not all, of the cabinet members had also pledged to give three-fourths of their salaries covering April to December in an effort to augment government funds.
Senate President Tito Sotto said some senators have already started donating their salaries in discreet. In the lower house, Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano told that congressmen are also donating their salaries for next month to help boost the public funds for the fight against the Corona virus.
These are all stately actions by the officials who are committed to make personal sacrifices and such deed deserves a clap. But while the crisis may still be far from over, what else can the authorities do?
Aside from the assistance given by the national government, the local government units can now realign their 20 percent of the development fund to help in Covid-19 response through the Joint Memorandum Circular 1. The DILG suggests that LGUs may now use the said funds to purchase personal protective equipment, testing kits, additional medicines, and food packages for the affected constituents.
But while some officials are shelling out from their own earnings, netizens start to wonder how come representatives of the house don’t use their own district funds instead of just doling out a month’s paycheck. Before the year 2019 ended, the vice chairman of the House Committee on ways and means said that members of House of Representatives were entitled to at least P100 million.
Call it pork or not, a meaty chunk of P70 million from that P100 million is set for infra projects. Now, why not try to realign this huge portion of the budget to help boost the nation’s effort in defeating the deadly virus? Instead of pushing through the future infrastructure projects, it is but wise to utilize what we have at present to survive the pandemic. There are almost 300 seats in the House. Just imagine if all would share. The infra can wait. The hungry and the sick cannot. And if the congressmen would find a way share most of their P100 million for this cause, their constituents would live to understand.
The elected and appointed officials should focus on the present situation. We’ll figure out what we can do in the future after surviving this. But the basic and the essentials in life must be delivered first. People need food and proper health care, hence the Department of Agriculture and Department of Health need a lot of boosting and support from everyone.
We are all in this together. While we continue to pray for healing, mercy and love, let us also be reminded by Leo “Dr. Love” Buscaglia that “only when we give joyfully, without hesitation or thought of gain, can we truly know what love means.”
Kuya J Pelayo IV is a Kapampangan broadcast journalist. For comments and suggestions, e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org