"These people have a lot of explaining to do."
Happy Eid Mubarak everyone, especially to our Muslim brethren who are celebrating Eid al-Fitr.
Also, our thoughts and prayers go out to the 1.1 million Marawi City residents displaced in the aftermath of the Battle of Marawi three years ago. In its commemoration, we honor the 168 soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice to free the city from the terrorists.
We are hoping and praying that the lingering suffering of the people of Marawi will finally end with the efforts of the Duterte administration to help them recover and rise from the rubble of devastation.
We would like to think now that such extreme difficulties they are experiencing would not be the condition the rest of the country ends up in in the post-COVID-19 scenario.
I believe there is no way President Duterte will allow it and leave such a legacy with only two years remaining in term of office.
We are now headed for a critical juncture of the war against the pandemic, two and a half months into the lockdown, particularly in Metro Manila.
Apparently, we are looking at another extension of the Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ), or we could ease into General Community Quarantine (GCQ).
We are just hoping for a little improvement from the chaotic distribution of the “second wave” of the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) cash assistance administered by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).
The barangay officials have just completed the distribution of the P100 billion first tranche of the social amelioration program to 18 million families. This must be liquidated before the second tranche can be downloaded by the Department of Budget Management (DBM) to the local government units (LGUs).
We understand that the task of handing out a billion peso cash is a little different than dropping bombs on terrorists' lairs in Marawi City because this time they face elected crooks in the barangay halls.
At least 42 of over 100 barangay officials investigated are reportedly facing criminal and administrative charges for anomalies and leakages in the SAC distribution. It is the corruption as much as the incompetence that have caused the fiasco in SAC distribution.
Needless to say, the poorest of the poor are literally dying of hunger. The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) warned that five to 10 million Filipinos, particularly those in the informal sector, stand to lose their means of livelihood altogether.
Despite the addition of five million households in the list of SAP beneficiaries, many impoverished Filipinos including senior citizens who deserve the cash aid are not getting it they are simply left out.
This would worsen with the expected arrival of thousands more overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who have lost their jobs and who have been stranded abroad.
Over 22,000 OFWs including seafarers have been on quarantine, many of whom have overstayed in isolation facilities due to chaotic COVID-19 testing red tapes.
But what aggravates us all amidst all our sacrifices since March is the allegations of irregularities the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) purchases of overpriced coronavirus testing machines, personal protective equipment (PPEs) and other medical equipment.
Inevitably, the exposé has brought back the issue on “ghost dialysis” transactions against PhilHealth officials who were never charged and have remained unscathed.
Apparently, Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III and other officials have more explaining to do about this second wave of corruption allegations.