Drilon says opposition 'willing to cooperate' to help Philippines 'survive' COVID-19 crisis

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 23 2020 12:31 PM

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon participates in a Senate hearing on February 24, 2020. Henzberg Austria, Senate PRIB

MANILA - Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Wednesday said that the opposition bloc is "willing to cooperate" with the Duterte administration to help the Philippines "survive" the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis.

Filipinos "live in a crucial period" as a "recession is about to hit the Philippines" as several businesses have either closed shop or downsized during the global pandemic, Drilon said in a statement.

"Being in the opposition is not easy... But we are willing to cooperate and provide to the best of our abilities [to have] policies that we believe can help our country get out of this difficulty," he said.

"But we hope that we are listened to also," he said.

The opposition bloc in the current Senate is only composed of 4 members namely Drilon, Sen. Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan, Sen. Risa Hontiveros and detained Sen. Leila de Lima.

Among the administration bills the opposition backed during the COVID-19 crisis is the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, which allows President Rodrigo Duterte to realign funds to programs that would help curb the spread of the disease.

While the opposition is ready to help the government, it will continue to "call a failure" several strategies to address the COVID-19 crisis, the Senate Minority Leader said.

"The IATF has failed. Let's call a spade a spade," he said, referring to the government's inter-agency task force against the global pandemic.

"There is no solution to this but we have to take the bull by the horn and have proposals that will guide us. Today we have none, unfortunately," he said.

Drilon urged Duterte to give a "comprehensive plan" that would help the country overcome health and economic woes caused by the pandemic.

"The people would like some guidance from the President and they would like to see where we stand and where the government wants us to go," Drilon said.

"We are willing to cooperate," he said.

IATF co-chair Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said Wednesday it was unfair to call government's COVID-19 response a failure, saying the Philippines was "in a good place" compared to developed countries where infection and death rates were rising.