Cayetano fends off criticisms on 'We went to work for you' photo

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 23 2020 08:20 PM | Updated as of Mar 23 2020 10:41 PM

House Speaker also asks public to give 'special powers bill' a chance

MANILA (UPDATE) - House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Monday fended off social media criticisms against pictures of congressmen and members of the Cabinet, led by himself and Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, wherein they called on the public to stay home.

In his latest Facebook live post, Cayetano explained that they were not comparing themselves to medical frontliners whom he said were risking their lives in the line of duty. 

Cayetano explained they merely wanted to echo the message for everyone to stay home as the medical frontliners showed up for work.

"No po, we’re not comparing ourselves to the frontliners. Hats off po kami, malayo po ang mga frontliners po. Every single second, they’re risking their lives. Kaya nga po kami, we're just extending the message: stay home," he said.

Congress convened a special session Monday upon the request of President Rodrigo Duterte so lawmakers can empower him to deal with the effects of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak in the country.

In the same post, Cayetano rebutted criticisms that the proposed special authority bill lacked details on where the President intends to spend the money it will be authorized to tap for the efforts to respond to the effects of the outbreak COVID-19.

Cayetano appealed to critics to give the bill a chance even as he maintained that making it very detailed will take too long. 

“Kung 'yun po gusto ng mga pulitiko na maubos oras namin sa pagde-debate, paano po 'yung kakainin ng ating mga kababayan? Paano 'yung mask? Paano extra beds? Paano po emergency equipment na kailangan ng mga kababayan natin," Cayetano said.

“Talagang mayroong kritiko, mayroong bashers. Continue to do that, kung 'yun ang trip niyo eh. As long as you stay home, and you help telling people to stay home," he added.

ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro, however, sustained the objections of the House leadership’s critics. 

“I share the outrage of the public towards this act. It is insensitive on their part, as they are comparing themselves to the true frontliners: our doctors, nurses, and health workers. These are the REAL heroes in our fight against this pandemic, battling COVID down there right in the grassroots and facing the risks among the masses," she said in a statement.

According to Castro, it is the responsibility of the members of the Congress and the Cabinet to go to work.

"On the other hand, Congress and Cabinet members SHOULD go work, and SHOULD do their work, and not flaunt it about. Specifically, they should give the public concrete assurances in the form of programs and subsidies that will prevent the further spread of COVID and aid the people avoid hunger during lockdown," she added.

SAGIP Party List Rep. Dante Marcoleta for his part maintained that the picture of the Speaker and the congressmen and other gov’t officials were patriotic. 

"If a picture paints a thousand words, this one painted a million sense of patriotism and love of country," he said.

Mimicking the now-famous call of health workers, some of the country’s top government officials called on Filipinos to stay at home to control the spread of COVID-19.

The call, however, backfired, with several netizens criticizing the supposed comparison of government officials to health frontliners who are exposed to the threat of COVID-19.