Manila Standard : Batangas governor convinced UniTeam ‘is exactly what country needs now’

3 March 2022

By Rey E. Requejo | Manila Standard

Batangas Gov. Hermilando Mandanas on Thursday expressed strong conviction that the UniTeam tandem of Partido Federal ng Pilipinas (PFP) standard-bearer former Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD) vice presidential bet Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte is exactly what the country needs at this time.

“Let us unite. That is our goal. Let us set aside arrogance. Our goal is to promote the dignity of the Filipino people,” Mandanas appealed to Filipinos Thursday, during an ambush interview on the sidelines of the BBM-Sara UniTeam’s huge campaign rally in Balayan, Batangas.

The campaign battle cry of Marcos and Duterte, who were both present at the event, has been that of unity.

Also, against a backdrop of a waning pandemic and a bright prospect of a nation rising from the ashes of the destruction brought about by COVID-19, Marcos Jr. on Thursday said there is a need to revisit the pandemic preparedness bill that was filed by the late senator Miriam Santiago.

Marcos stressed that the move is intended to ensure “that the country will be ready to address any health issue of this magnitude that could threaten and disrupt the public health system in the future.”

Answering a question during interview, Mandanas acknowledged that Batangueños in particular haven’t carried Marcos to victory in past elections.

But he said the May 2022 polls will be different, since the conditions are now different.

With this, the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) stalwart guaranteed that the entire province of Batangas would be behind BBM-Sara come election day.

He said Batangas has 1.8 million registered voters.

Meanwhile, Batangas 1st district Rep. Eileen Ermita-Buhain highlighted to her fellow Batangueños the advantage that Marcos and Duterte have when it comes to leading the country in the next six years.

“Let us unite and work for the common good of the Filipino people. We vote Bongbong Marcos for President, and of course (our) Vice President Mayor Inday Sara Duterte. I support these two candidates. Both of them had come from the executive [branch] and they know the political situation in the grassgroots,” Ermita-Buhain said.

House Majority Leader and Leyte 1st District Rep. Martin G. Romualdez, Batangas Vice Gov. Mark Liveste and Lakas-CMD Batangas provincial chairman and former Executive Sec. Eduardo Ermita attended the the rally held at the Balayan Government Center organized by Balayan Mayor JR Fronda.

Mandanas and Leviste also led Batangas local officials from Balayan, Lian, Nasugbu, Tuy, Calaca, Calatagan, Lemery, and Taal in hosting a lunch with Duterte, Marcos and senatorial candidates at the Calatagan Golf Club in Calatagan, Batangas.

Later in the afternoon, Mandanas and Leviste also held a rally for Duterte and other senatorial candidates at the Calatagan Gymansium.

Santiago, who ran as president with Marcos as her running-mate during the 2016 elections, filed Senate Bill No. 1573, or the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act at the height of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-COV) outbreak in 2013.

The bill called for the creation of a national health strategy in cases of pandemics and national emergencies and seeks to “strengthen national response and preparedness for public health emergencies, such as those which result from natural disasters and severe weather, recent outbreaks and pandemics, bioterrorism, mass casualties, chemical emergencies, and radiation emergencies.”

“Her foresight is amazing. A few years before it happened he had already seen it, alas and it didn’t become law. But if I am elected, I will push for it to be re-examined and finally enacted so that we can be prepared for any future health problems,” Marcos said.

Santiago came up with the idea of passing the bill after the MERS-COV, a coronavirus strain that was deadlier than the 2002 SARS outbreak, hit several countries in the Middle East.

Unfortunately, her proposal which can be described as preventive and way ahead of its time was widely ignored by her peers.

According to the official Senate website, Santiago’s bill could have solved the problems that the government experienced at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We can no longer allow the government to be confused due to the lack of direction and coordination of the various branches. What has happened is that government agencies and local government units have separated, so the problem has worsened,” Marcos stressed.

He said the government must be prepared to respond immediately to a given situation, and the Santiago bill has laid out the blueprint for “effective emergency response.”

“We want the Department of Health to create a strategy on how to fight the pandemic and he will also be the lead agency that will oversee to give direction to other government agencies such as the Department of Interior and Local Government, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, and even the Red Cross,” Marcos said.

Santiago’s bill also called for the creation of an emergency fund every fiscal year for pandemics and other emergencies.

“If there are funds set aside for this, there is no need to realign and reallocate the budget and at the first threat of a pandemic, the government will be there immediately to respond,” he added.