πŸ“° Editorial: Innovate and volunteer [People’s Journal]

From People’s Journal: Let us heed the counsel of a veteran lawmaker and former top law enforcer.

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#PINGterview: Daily Wage Earners, Priority sa Tulong; Kukupit ng Tulong, Walang Karapatang Mabuhay!

In an interview on DZBB/GMA News TV, Sen. Lacson stressed the need for lawmakers to prioritize help for daily wage earners amid the COVID19-triggered lockdowns, while preventing corruption in the implementation of aid for those affected.

NOTES and QUOTES:
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#PINGterview: Extra Compensation for COVID-19 Front-Liners; Aid for Affected Areas

In an interview on DWIZ, Sen. Lacson answered questions on congressional actions to address the COVID-19 threat:
– Extra compensation, health insurance for front-liners
– Heavier penalties vs politicking during calamities
– Addressing economic impact of COVID-19 threat

QUOTES and NOTES:
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Flexibility, Creativity in the Time of Enhanced Community Quarantine

As the enhanced community quarantine due to the COVID-19 threat continues, a grim reality is becoming more felt: it is not just lives that are at stake, but also livelihoods. For many, survival is indeed a priority, but what good is survival if they face the prospect of starving?

While we must concede that our individual rights and freedom must yield to our survival as country and people, creativity still plays a major role in balancing both sides of the equation and still satisfy both concerns.

For instance, daily wage earners – including drivers of public utility vehicles such as jeepneys, taxis and pedicabs, as well as vendors, construction workers, waiters, and even caddies – are hit hard by the public transport ban. Without wages for even just a week, how will they feed their families? Parents may go hungry for the sake of the children. But when their children go hungry, God knows what they will do next.

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On the State of Calamity Over the Entire Philippines Due to COVID-19

Placing the entire country under a state of calamity is timely and rational, and thus deserves the support of the Filipino people. For one, it will allow the local government units as well as the national government agencies to utilize their calamity funds and Quick Response Fund, in accordance with Republic Act 10121 and other pertinent laws.

Having said that, I cannot imagine that concerned local government officials in charge of dispensing those funds can still have gall and malevolent intention of stealing the monies under their control, considering the seriousness of this unprecedented crisis that we are all facing.

Further, the government, for all its disaster preparedness and response efforts, cannot overcome the threat by itself. We must all do our part, whether as workers rendering frontline services, scientists developing ways to deal with the problem, or responsible Filipinos giving support to them while showing understanding and cooperation with measures from the national government and local government units.

There is no doubt we will survive this, as we have done in so many crises before.

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On Legal Tools in Enforcing “Community Quarantines”

As the “community quarantine” to address the COVID-19 threat starts, the Philippine National Police should exercise caution in handling the situation.

Republic Act 9271, the Quarantine Act of 2004 – replacing a very old Republic Act 123 of 1947 – is silent on the movements of persons in the streets as it only covers domestic and international seaports and airports.

Hence, law enforcement authorities may not be legally equipped to conduct arrest unless local ordinances are available for its enforcement.

For its part, Congress may need to amend R.A. 9271 to adapt to this new normal, the COVID-19, and God knows what else would come to hit us in the future. Hopefully we’ve seen the last of its kind even as we pray that cure will come sooner than soon.

Having said that, the people are enjoined to fully cooperate. After all, these are extraordinary times that call for extraordinary measures.

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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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Sponsorship Speech for Ambassadors and Foreign Service Officers at the Commission on Appointments

Mr. Chairman, distinguished members of the Commission on Appointments, this Representation as Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, presided over a public hearing this morning to deliberate on the nominations of three Ambassadors Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Department of Foreign Affairs.

The Committee likewise deliberated on the ad interim appointments of 10 Senior Officers of the Department of Foreign Affairs promoted to the rank of Foreign Service Officer II.

Your Committee, after deliberating on their qualifications and fitness during the public hearing, determined that those who are with us in the plenary today are fit and qualified to be in the posts where they are nominated and appointed, and therefore ruled to recommend to the plenary their appointments for the consent and approval of this body.

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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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