Category: Statements

Dealing with COVID-19 as a Nation

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The Metro Manila “lockdown,” “community quarantine,” or whatever the authorities may call it, is one decisive action taken by the government that needs the support of our people, no matter the sacrifices or inconvenience it brings.

But then again, government must lose no time in coming up with practical but effective ways of implementing it to serve its real purpose for our country to survive this unprecedented crisis that we are facing.

For its part, the Department of Health’s Inter-Agency Task Force (DOH-IATF) should issue clear, simple and concise guidelines on dealing with COVID-19 to prevent confusion among the public, as so many doctors and medical experts have been expressing different opinions on it, particularly on its transmission.

One example involves former DOH Sec. and now Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin being quoted as saying COVID-19 is infectious only when the patient is symptomatic, and that quarantine should be mandatory only for those who had direct contact with positive patient, on the one hand; and on the other, Chinese researchers reportedly confirmed a case of asymptomatic transmission where a woman from Wuhan passed it to five kin but never got physically sick herself.

Meanwhile, self-quarantine is not for oneself but for the sake of other people. Insisting to work or move around in spite of full knowledge of interaction with a possible COVID-19 carrier is not a laudable act. It is in fact damnable.

Citizens must also do their part by practicing self-discipline and self-control against thoughtless acts such as hoarding and profiteering at the expense of fellow Filipinos.

This is not the time to argue and fight. Instead, we should all unite to get over this plague.

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Going on Self-Quarantine as COVID-19 Precaution

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Better safe than sorry for others.

There is every reason to be concerned as far as the Senate, since an invited resource person who has been tested positive for COVID-19 had not only entered the Senate premises, but even interacted with at least two senators and their staff.

In my case, since I shared the elevator with Sen. Gatchalian yesterday afternoon on our way to the session hall, I am taking precaution by doing self-quarantine while waiting for the result of his test. If he tests positive, I will have to undergo the test myself.

We agreed to disinfect the Senate starting today. I would encourage my fellow senators who may have interacted with our two colleagues, Senators Binay and Gatchalian, to follow their lead and do self-quarantine for two weeks as well, not only for our sake but for others.

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More Budget for R&D Pushed Amid COVID-19 Threat

Despite measly state support, our local scientists have given us a major boost – and much-needed hope – in dealing with the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), by way of test kits developed by local experts at the University of the Philippines-National Institute of Health (UPNIH). Tests using these kits will cost less than 1/6 of those using imported kits.

I have repeatedly raised the issue of the minuscule budgetary allocation for research and development (R&D) in the national budget year in, year out – an average of, lo and behold, 0.4% of the annual budget from 2016 to 2020, including 0.39% for 2020. For the same five-year period, the DOST’s average budget is only P20 billion or a meager 0.56% against the trillions of pesos that we pass every year as our national budget. This, even as I consistently amended the budget measure by augmenting the budgets of the Department of Science and Technology and its programs. For 2020, I sought a P50M increase for NICER, P100M increase for STAMINA4Space and a P100M increase for CRADLE; as well as P537.991M for UPLB’s National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology.

Had our homegrown scientists been given the much-needed additional budgetary support for R&D, who knows how much more they can contribute? As it is, by not supporting them adequately, we’re wasting their talents and opportunities to help our nation.

This should be a wake-up call for our government officials who do not invest in research and development (R&D) through the budget, but instead are supplier-friendly “shopaholics” who choose to shop or buy from their β€œfavorite” suppliers.

If only the kudos and support that our local scientists richly deserve, especially during these trying times, would be translated into increased support from our government.

Science entails research. Science can greatly help especially during looming disasters such as COVID-19. It is high time our government throw its support behind our homegrown scientists.

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#PINGterview: Legislation vs Money Laundering

In an interview on DZMM, Sen. Lacson answered questions on possible legislation vs money laundering.

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On the DOH’s Procedures in Dealing with the COVID-19 Phenomenon

Do we have enough testers to cover a decent number of our population, especially in the more vulnerable areas of the country? If no, the DOH may be underreporting, albeit unintentionally.

Having said that, we do not see the problem of the virus as it actually exists. This is a top health priority, and government must invest heavily not only on prevention and cure by way of research, but also on containment. We have many homegrown medical experts in and out of government.

This is one phenomenon that should bring us together as a nation.

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The Test of Intelligence Information

It is a test all right, not of the intelligence of the Filipino people but a test and a challenge as well to our intelligence community to verify what I said, a yet-to-be validated information provided by a reliable source who had given me some accurate intelligence reports in the past.

In intelligence parlance, this information may be classified β€˜A6’. Considering the implications, it is one piece of information still worth looking into.

When an issue that has serious implications – such as the reported presence of Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) members in the Philippines – is raised, credible information is the best way to resolve it. This is without prejudice to Philippine authorities’ ongoing efforts to verify such information.

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On the Need to Update the Anti-Money Laundering Act

The bringing of huge sums of money in and out of the country in past months with seeming impunity indicates the urgent need for action from our government, not just by the Executive but also by the Legislative. Our authorities should keep up with, if not keep one step ahead of, criminals who are trying to do the same.

While there is need to address the corruption that is one big reason for authorities’ tolerating money laundering, there is also a need to take a long, hard look at gaps in our existing laws, including the Bank Secrecy Law and the Anti-Money Laundering Act.

On the other hand, the amendments to these laws should also make sure that they cannot be weaponized for political purposes. Speaking from experience, I have been at the receiving end of such abuse of the law by the likes of Ador Mawanay, Mary “Rosebud” Ong, Victor Corpus and the Arroyos, who prompted me to waive my rights under the Bank Secrecy Law and challenged them to withdraw all the dollars they claimed I owned. And acting from those experiences, I proposed amendments to the AMLA and filed a bill excluding all public servants from the Bank Secrecy Act.

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On a True Senate of the People

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When we cast our vote on any matter under deliberation, we should be dictated only by our own conscience and what we honestly think is good for our country, and the institution where we belong – and not because of blind loyalty to any person or party. While loyalty is a virtue, blind loyalty is simply just that – blind.

Otherwise, we can no longer be the Senate of the people that we are supposed to be, but an expensive “rubber stamp” that our taxpayers have to sustain out of their hard-earned tax money.

Having said that, there is no reason to be saddened either way by the voting on Senate Resolution 337. That is democracy at work in the Senate.

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#PINGterview: Improved ‘New’ VFA; ‘Money Laundering’ by Chinese Visitors

In an interview on DWIZ, Sen. Lacson answered questions on:
– ‘New’ PH-US VFA under negotiation
– Spike in cash brought by Chinese into PH

QUOTES and NOTES:
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#PINGterview: Proactive na Tayo vs Terorismo!

In a phone patch interview on DZBB and GMA News TV, Sen. Lacson notes the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 that was passed in the Senate will lead to a more proactive fight against terrorism, while containing safeguards to prevent possible abuses.

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