Aksyon Demokratiko hits Duterte for 'politicizing' pandemic aid

Katrina Domingo and Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 10 2021 08:46 PM | Updated as of Aug 11 2021 10:47 AM

President Rodrigo Duterte
President Rodrigo Duterte. File

Palace: President has prerogative on aid distribution

MANILA (UPDATE) - Aksyon Demokratiko on Tuesday slammed President Rodrigo Duterte for threatening not to release the government's cash aid directly to a certain local government in Metro Manila.

The President should stop politicizing the cash aid program during the COVID-19 pandemic, Aksyon Demokratiko, the party founded by the late Sen. Raul Roco, said in a statement.

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"Marami ang namatay at nagkasakit dahil sa COVID. Marami ang nawalan ng trabaho... Sa ngayon, nasa kalagitnaan tayo ng mas matinding lockdown dahil sa Delta variant," the political party said.

(Several people have died and fell sick because of COVID. Several people lost their jobs... Now, we are in the middle of a tougher lockdown because of the Delta variant.)

"Sa gitna ng lahat ng ito, busy ulit ang ating pangulo sa pang-aaway, tsismis at pamumulitika," it added.

(Amid all these, the President is busy bullying, gossiping and politicking.)

Duterte, in a late-night address on Monday, said he would course the cash aid through several agencies in a certain city that allegedly has a "disorganized" system.

The President did not name any politician, but went on to lambast a certain mayor for aspiring for the presidency despite having lewd photos.

Duterte appeared to be referring to Manila Mayor Francisco "Isko Moreno" Domagoso, a former actor who is rumored to be running for president in 2022 under Aksyon Demokratiko.

Duterte's daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio and his close aide Sen. Bong Go are also being encouraged by some sectors to seek the country's top position. Duterte himself is being urged to run for vice president.

 DOMAGOSO AND AKSYON DEMOKRATIKO

Last week, Domagoso's scheduled oath-taking with Aksyon Demokratiko was postponed after thousands trooped to a Manila vaccination center, causing chaos in the capital city a day before the National Capital Region was placed under lockdown for a third time.

The Manila Mayor was previously a part of the National Unity Party before joining Aksyon Demokratiko, which also has Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto as a member.

Prior to the pandemonium, "troll farms" supposedly tried to attack Manila's vaccination registration platform, said Domagoso. He did not directly say if he considered that a part of mudslinging in the run-up to the 2022 elections.

The Palace had denied that Duterte's remarks on July 28 telling barangay officials to bar unvaccinated people from leaving their homes, were to blame for the chaos that overtook several COVID-19 vaccination sites.

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CITATION FOR MANILA CITY LGU

"Kung ang City of Manila ang punterya niya, DILG na mismo ang nagsabi na 'efficient at timely' ang pamimigay ng ayuda noon," Aksyon Demokratiko said.

Last June 30, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) awarded Domagoso and the City of Manila a certificate of recognition for their "efficiency and timely completion of the distribution of the Ayuda... despite the challenges of the pandemic."

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) also issued a certificate of recognition to the City Government of Manila in January of this year for its "unwavering commitment and great effort to implement the social pension program for indigent senior citizens."

"Gumising na sana ang Pangulo sa katotohanan na nasa gitna tayo ng pandemiya at kailangan natin ng isang lider na tunay mamuno," Aksyon Demokratiko said.

(The President should acknowledge the truth that we are in the middle of a pandemic and we need a leader who can actually lead us.)

"Higit isang taon na tayong nasa pandemiya. Mananalo na tayo ng gold medal kung pahabaan lang ng lockdown sa buong mundo ang pag-uusapan," it said.

(It has been over a year since the pandemic began. We would've won a gold medal for having the world's longest lockdown.)

"Tigilan ang pamumulitika at huwag gamitin ang pandemya upang isulong ang politikal at personal na interes para sa sariling pamilya."

(Stop politicking and don't use the cash aid to push political and personal interests in favor your own family.)

Manila's Department of Social Welfare said Tuesday that the city is prepared to distribute cash aid to residents affected by the enhanced community quarantine (EQC).

“Hindi po kami magulong-magulo. Katunayan nga po kami ay handa na pong mamahagi ng ayuda kahapon pa po kaya lang nagka-meeting ang Metro Manila Mayors, gagawin po itong simultaneous distribution simula bukas. Kaya sabay sabay bukas ang Metro Manila sa ayuda distribution,” said Ma. Asuncion Fugoso, officer-in-charge of the Manila Department of Social Welfare.

(Were not disorganized. Actually, we're ready to distribute the cash aid yesterday but the Metro Manila Mayors had a meeting and they will conduct distribution simultaneously starting tomorrow. So Metro Manila will conduct a simultaneous ayuda distribution tomorrow.)

“Ang totoo po, nagre-request pa ako dahil kulang po sa huli naming pondo. Sa ngayon, nagbaba ng P1.488 billion. Kumpara sa nakaraang ayuda, P 1.52 billion. Ito naman po ay ipinaabot natin sa DILG at sabi nila, inaayos po nila,” she said.

(Actually, we are requesting for more. The downloaded funds is P1.488 billion, compared to the past cash aid of P1.52 billion. We already relayed this to the DILG, and they said they will look into it.)

The national government allocated P10.98 billion to subsidize over 10 million low-income residents in Metro Manila during the Aug. 6-20 lockdown.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said they are also working on a P278-million supplemental budget so that all qualified residents in the capital region will receive government support.

 OTHER GROUPS ALSO HIT DUTERTE'S 'POLITICKING'

Labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno also slammed the president's 'politicking' over the cash aid distribution, saying that "while Duterte continues to engage in dirty tactics, millions of Filipinos are left jobless and hungry as they await financial aid and support."

Defend Jobs Philippines, meanwhile, backed Moreno, saying the aid distribution should be spared from politics. It called tirades against the Manila Mayor “below-the-belt”.

“It is unethical, unecessary and unbecoming for a President as the highest official of the land to publicly attack Moreno out of personal and political basis. This is nothing but clear display of politicking for the upcoming 2022 national elections,” Christian Lloyd Magsoy, spokesperson of Defend Jobs Philippines, said.

PALACE COMMENT

Malacañang said Duterte had the prerogative on how to handle the aid distribution as funds come from the national government. 

"Sa ngayon po, the money is coming from the national government. Kinikilala natin na partners natin iyong mga ilang mayors—karamihan LGU mayors, sa pamimigay ng ganitong ayuda," said Palace spokesman Harry Roque.

(For now, the money is coming from the national government. We recognize some— most mayors as partners in the distribution of this aid.)

"Pero kung sa tingin ng Presidente mas mabuti para sa mga constituents ng lugar na iyon na ipadaan sa DILG and DSWD, we cannot question that po dahil that’s national funds anyway," he said in a press briefing.

(But if the President thinks it's better for the constituents of that area for the aid to go through the DILG and DSWD, we cannot question that because that’s national funds anyway.)

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