Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon expects President Rodrigo Duterte to discuss his administration’s overall comprehensive plan to against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic and its impact on the economy in his upcoming State of the Nation Address (SONA).

“The upcoming SONA is an opportunity for the President to present an overall comprehensive plan on how the country will survive this pandemic,” Drilon said in a radio interview Tuesday.

“At the top of our wish list is to hear the President’s plan on how to revive our economy heavily hit by the pandemic and help millions of our countrymen, including hundreds of thousands of overseas Filipino workers, who lost their livelihood,” he added.

Drilon lamented that because of government’s lack of an overall comprehensive plan to handle the pandemic, a “shotgun approach” was used in dealing with Covid-19 and implemented “the longest lockdowns in the world, which did little to prevent the spread of the virus but only damaged the economy.”

The opposition senator said he wanted to hear Duterte’s plans on how the Philippines “can get out of this situation”.  He also gave his assurance that members of the opposition will cooperate with  administration in crafting measures to help address the pandemic.

The senator said it is clear that the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) failed to effectively handle the pandemic as evidenced by the increasoing number of cases per day from 300 cases per day in March, to 2,000 since June.

“”Let’s face it, the IATF has failed and even the Malacanang would admit it,” he said.

Drilon added that the IATF should “review their performance and find out how they can be more effective.”

“What did Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam do that we failed to do?” he said.

Drilon said he is interested on what the President plans to do to jumpstart the economy which is severely affected by the pandemic, admitting that he is ready to support any economic stimulus package even if that would mean borrowing more funds to address the pandemic, and exceeding the country’s deficit target, as long as the people’s needs are addressed.

“We are ready to support any measure towards economic recovery. But the first question is: how much do we need to jumpstart the economy?”

He added: “If we agree on a certain amount, then the next question is, how are we going to fund it? Is it through a new tax measure or by borrowing?”

The House of Representatives is planning a P1.3 trillion economic stimulus package.  However, the Department of Finance said the government can only allow up to P140 billion.

Meanwhile, Drilon wondered why the House of Representatives wanted to start its deliberation on Charter Change upon the resumption of session next week while the country is still grappling with the pandemic

“Regardless of the merit, the issue on Cha-cha is the timing. Should we debate on Cha-cha now, which is a very divisive issue, or should we concentrate all our efforts and resources on economic recovery?” Drilon said in a separate statement.  (Rommel F. Lopez)