SONA challenge accepted

Martin Romualdez

HOUSE leaders led by Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez on Monday said Congress will work hard to realize President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte’s coronavirus diseae-19 (COVID-19) roadmap for recovery to pump prime the economy and create jobs for displaced Filipinos  Romualdez, the chairman of the powerful House committee on rules, said President Duterte has a threefold mission to protect the Filipino nation from hunger and poverty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, save precious human lives and minimize the number of Filipinos infected by the coronavirus and ramp up budgetary measures needed to fully implement a responsive and sustainable recovery plan.

“In short: Kabuhayan, Kaligtasan, and Kaunlaran,” said Romualdez.

“There is no doubt that the country is at war against COVID-19, an unseen enemy.”

“President Duterte, our commander-in-chief, clearly laid out the battle plans for us to emerge victorious in the end. In this fight of our lifetime, each of us is given specific theaters of war to attend to. Everyone is being called to be part of the whole of government response to combat the pandemic,” Romualdez said.

“We, here in the House of Representatives, are ready to face the challenges spelled out by our President in his SONA. As partners in nation building, we commit ourselves to the realization of the state’s concrete plans and the passage of the priority legislative measures provided by the President. I pray that all Filipinos will heed the clarion call of the President for every able bodied citizen to join the people's war against COVID-19. There are no spectators in this fight. We need to link arms, and win as one, if we are to survive as a nation,” Romualdez stressed.

Cavite Rep. Elpidio “Pidi” Barzaga Jr. and San Jose del Monte City Rep. Florida “Rida” Robes said unhampered economic activities must continue to ensure the country’s economic growth.

“It was a straightforward and direct to the point speech. I congratulate President Duterte for another powerful speech about his renewed commitment to good governance, intensified campaign against corruption, peace and order and defeat COVID-19 pandemic,” said Barzaga.

“We will work on long-term solutions aimed at addressing the nation’s serious ills,” said Barzaga. “We will work double-time to act on the President’s priority bills, especially those aimed at improving the lives of our people.”

Robes said this year's SONA will also be added to the list of rare instances when the nation is addressed in an unorthodox manner.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the world to adapt to the new normal, and it has also brought different levels of anxiety for all of us. The strength of the character and leadership capabilities of public servants globally have been seriously tested,” said Robes.

“It is in this light that I pray for President Duterte's well-being to continue serving the Filipino people. Time and time again, we, Filipinos, have manifested our resiliency and robustness in facing all the hurdles in our country, whether it be a tropical storm, flood, landslide, or any type of catastrophe.

"Therefore, I call upon my kababayans to manifest the same level of endurance when combatting COVID-19. I have faith that we can best heal through ensuring that our actions are offered toward the spirit of bayanihan. God bless the Philippines!” Robes added.

House Assistant Minority Leader and Marikina City Rep. Stella uimbo, said “as an economist, the principle is simple: whichever country is better able to control the spread of COVID will have a faster economic recovery.  Unfortunately for us, our ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) neighbors have far outperformed us in stopping this pandemic. Among our ASEAN peers, we are literally in last place.”

“That’s why time is of the essence. We are now in catch up mode. Now more than ever is the time for the nation to unite, fight the spread of COVID, and help Filipinos earn a living. We need confidence to return to consumers, workers, and the marketplace.  We cannot afford to fail, let’s all help the government succeed,” said Quimno.

Quimbo said the Department of Health (DoH) should report the true state of health of the nation and give the people clear programs on preventing and curing COVID.

“The DOH needs to tell the facts in its most unvarnished state. Our people need to know what the real score is. They do not deserve sugarcoated presentations that keep changing from one week to the other. They must be properly guided with truthful, even if painful, facts that will guide their behavior,” said Quimbo.

Quimbo, wife of former Marikina City Rep. Miro Quimco who chaired the House committee on ways and means during the Aquino administration, said “let’s pump prime the economy.”

“I hope that the government will certify economic stimulus bills as urgent. We need Bayanihan 2 now so P140 billion which is readily available can be immediately spent for subsidies to workers so families have cash to spend and businesses can proceed with operations while working out a credit line from financial institutions on highly subsidized and concessional terms. We need ARISE (Accelerated Recovery and Investments Stimulus for the Economy) and CURES (COVID-19 Unemployment Reduction Economic Stimulus) soon after so that an appropriate scale of stimulus can be provided. Kulang ang P140 billion para buhayin ang ekonomiya. We cannot fight cancer with Biogesic. We need aggressive, targeted chemotherapy.  Economic stimulus has to be big enough so it is impactful and not wasted,” said Quimbo.