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Recto, minority senators unsatisfied in COVID-19 plans laid out in 5th SONA

Several senators on Monday aired their dissatisfaction over the game plan to address the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic presented by President Rodrigo Duterte in his 5th State of the Nation Address (SONA).

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto lamented that Duterte's speech did not even provide details on how the country intends to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and instead the speech came off as divisive.

"It scored low in the inspirational index. People were expecting a pep talk that will boost their morale, steel their resolve and will leave them to conclude, without a doubt, that indeed, we shall overcome," he said.

Recto added that it also lacked a stern warning for underperforming government officials amid the pandemic.

"The President gave Congress a long laundry list to work on. He should have also given marching orders to his men, especially those who are lagging behind in delivering programs to the people," he said.

'Cabinet changes'

Recto believes Duterte needs a Cabinet and sub-Cabinet overhaul to be able to fulfill his promises to the Filipino people.

"It is one way of redeeming the pledges made during the fourth Monday of July. In the battle for national survival, we need the best men up the front," he said.

Meanwhile, opposition Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan took a swipe at Duterte for attacking Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon during the SONA. He said the address lacked concrete plans to arrest the spread of the contagion.

"COVID, matinding gutom at kawalan ng trabaho ng 10 milyon nating mga kababayan ang kalaban, hindi si Drilon," he said on Twitter.

"With the corruption in PhilHealth, the removal of [Health Secretary Francisco] Duque and PhilHealth executives from office should have been announced. It seems that the problem of the still-spreading COVID and the subsequent economic collapse will not be solved," he added in a separate statement.

'Acknowledging faults'

Senator Risa Hontiveros was also disappointed with what she heard.

"Instead of laying down a comprehensive plan for the country to combat COVID-19, the President opened his SONA by assailing his critics and ranting about his personal grudge against the media. Clearly, walang maayos na plano," she said.

"Issues of unemployment and hunger were not directly addressed. Walang trabaho at gutom ang mga Pilipino, pero ang mga inunang isyu — death penalty, drug war, at kung anu-ano pa," she added.

Hontiveros claimed that the administration mishandled the pandemic and wasted the past four months of community quarantines.

"Para umusad, kailangang may pag-ako ng pagkukulang. Kailangan ding may pagkilala ang gobyerno na ang COVID-19 crisis ang pinakamalaking problemang kinakaharap natin ngayon," she said.

During the SONA, Duterte thanked the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases and the National Task Force Against COVID-19 "for all the countless hours it spent to keep the pandemic in check and for all the efforts it made to ensure the safety of our people."

He called on Congress to pass the proposed Bayanihan to Recover as One Act to stimulate the bogged down Philippine economy.

The President acknowledged that opening up industries to its “pre-COVID-19 levels” is not yet an option due to the upward trend of virus transmission in the country.

Duterte also claimed that the discovery of a COVID-19 vaccine is "just around the corner." -- BAP, GMA News