By EMILIA EBAJO
MANILA – On National Heroes’ Day, various groups held a protest caravan assailing the irregularities in the government’s COVID-19 pandemic response. They declared that corruption amid a pandemic is the “most immoral of its kind.”
The Commission on Audit (COA) earlier released their initial findings, flagging the P67.5 billion ($1.36 billion) budget of the Department of Health (DOH) intended for the government’s pandemic response. State auditors also flagged a total of P59 billion ($1.19 billion) unspent funds amid calls for the release of sufficient and due pay and benefits for health workers and financial aid to pandemic-hit families.
“This is the root of all evils. The unacceptable #DutertePalpak rule failing to contain the pandemic has led to recurring lockdowns, generating new waves of poverty and misery to the poor sectors in Metro Manila and the whole country. Exposing DOH’s irregularities is a heroic act indeed and the COA officers’ gallantry needs to be recognized today,” said Ariel Casilao, Anakpawis Partylist president and a former lawmaker.
The caravan began in the University of the Philippines Diliman grounds and headed to various government agencies flagged by COA on its initial findings.
In a statement, Anakpawis also lamented that the recent Senate hearings revealed how a former officer of the Presidential Management Staff connected to Sen. Christopher Go, a former aide of the president, was reportedly involved in the overpriced procurement of protective equipment.
Casilao said corruption should be “declared as the most immoral of its kind” especially since the poor government pandemic response has led to worsening living conditions for many Filipinos.
He said, “we have been telling for the longest time. To end the pandemic crisis in the country is to carry out #DuterteWakasanNa. He is the opposite of a ‘hero,’ he is the scourge to all Filipinos.” (JJE)