Senator Risa Hontiveros was the only Senator to voice opposition to Senate Bill 1418. The measure, which passed on 3rd and final reading in the Upper Chamber early Tuesday morning, seeks to grant the President additional powers to address the outbreak of COVID-19 in the country. Only Hontiveros was so focused on her disdain of the President and her vehement refusal to provide any allowances to the Chief Executive that she couldn’t see that the bill is absolutely necessary. The bill passed 12-0, but Hontiveros couldn’t help but say she disapproved. So what exactly did she oppose? Here are the salient provisions of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act that dilawan supporters are saying is a slippery slope to even more human rights violations by President Duterte (eye roll):
- SB 1418 gives the President special authority to realign government funds to finance programs which extend food and financial aid to millions of poor families greatly affected by the crisis
- Some 18 million indigent families will receive a monthly allowance between P5,000 to P8,000 for two months.
- The bill would also grant additional compensation to frontline health workers who are bravely serving the public’s health
- The funds for these programs will be sourced from Government-Owned and Controlled Corporations (GOCCs) to ensure that items in the P4.1-T budget for the year remain intact.
Senator Pia Cayetano, principal sponsor of the bill, further clarified that the President will not be granted the power to take over private businesses, even if the crisis worsens. There is a provision in the bill passed by the Senate which does however say that the Executive branch may take over the operations of private businesses if their owners unjustifiably refuse or signify that they’re no longer capable of operating their enterprises as directed by the Executive Department. This is a fail-safe measure designed to protect the public’s access to crucial goods and services during this time of national calamity.
The legislative branch of government is designed to be a powerful check and balance against possible abuses by the Executive. But it seems that Hontiveros is not opposing this bill because she fears that it is irresponsible. She is unable to see past her dislike of President Duterte and is serving in her role as Senator not for the benefit of the Filipino people, but for the fulfillment of her hate of Duterte administration. She is deaf to the good of the administration and because of that she is unable to properly protect public interest. Her personal interests are far too much to overcome.
Either that or she genuinely thinks that providing cash assistance to poor families and giving support where it is to to our health professionals is a bad idea.