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5th SONA 2020: Duterte presents plans to fight Covid-19

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President Rodrigo Duterte presented his plans to ensure the country’s recovery from the effects of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic when he delivered his 5th State of the Nation Address (SONA), Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said on July 28, 2020.

When asked to react to claims that Duterte, in his SONA delivered on July 27, 2020, failed to provide his government’s concrete plans for the country’s recovery from Covid-19, Roque said, “hindi po totoo iyan (that’s not true).”

Senator Risa Hontiveros and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate lamented that Duterte used his penultimate SONA to lambast his critics, such as Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and the Lopezes.

Senator Francis Pangilinan, on the other hand, was dismayed that Duterte did not mention the government’s “miss targets” in mass testing, contact tracing, and the disbursement of cash assistance to poor families affected by the pandemic.

Some senators also claimed Duterte was not able to give a “clear” Covid-19 recovery roadmap.

Roque said the lawmakers’ reactions no longer surprised the Palace.

“Kaniya-kaniyang pananaw po iyan. At siyempre galing sa oposisyon, wala naman silang mabuting makikita doon sa sinabi ni Presidente (We all have different views. And of course, the reactions came from the opposition who do not see anything good in what the President has said),” he said.

Roque maintained that the government’s policy is to further boost the country’s capacity to test, isolate, trace, and treat Covid-19 patients.

He added that the government would use available funds to reboot the economy, which has suffered a recession because of the pandemic.

“Gagamitin po natin ang public funds ‘no para mag-stimulate ng economy (We will use public funds to stimulate the economy),” Roque said.

He also noted that Duterte has pushed for priority legislative measures that would help restart economic activities in the country.

The proposed Bayanihan to Recover as One (Bayanihan 2) Act, which contains a stimulus package that would revive the country’s economy in the aftermath of the Covid-19 crisis, was among the legislative priorities outlined by Duterte in his 5th SONA, Roque said.

“At kahapon naman po, nangako ‘yung liderato ng Kongreso na within the month ‘no, or siguro itong darating na month ng Agosto, maisasabatas o maia-approve nila in third and final reading (Yesterday, Congress leaders promised that they would approve the [priority measures] on third and final reading within the month or this coming August),” he said.(Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos, PNA)

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