Former House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Friday reminded the government agencies not to let the hearings on the alleged mishandling of COVID-19 response funds keep their focus away from the urgent problems of the pandemic.
“Despite the hearings, the COA report, dapat naka-focus tayo on what’s most important and on what’s most urgent, which is paano labanan ang COVID-19 sa dalawang aspeto: buhay o y’ung health, at kabuhayan o y’ung livelihood,” Cayetano said in a radio interview with iFM Baguio on September 3, 2021.
(Despite the hearings and the Commission on Audit [COA] report, we must focus on what’s most important and most urgent, which is how to fight COVID-19 in two aspects: lives and livelihoods.)
He said Congressional hearings are being conducted to bring out the truth anyway.
“Kung ito (corruption allegations) po ay drama-drama lang, focus lang po sa COVID-19. Ngayon, kung ito’y totoo, then we have to face the consequences kasi walang magbabago sa ating bansa unless lumabas y’ung totoo at may accountability,” he said.
(If these corruption allegations seek nothing but drama, then just focus on COVID-19. But if these are true, then we have to face the consequences because nothing will change in our country unless the truth comes out and there is accountability.)
The former Speaker cited his own experiences with hearings involving public funds which are often marred by allegations and “falsehoods.”
“I can speak on this with authority kasi naranasan kong ako y’ung nag-iimbestiga, at naranasan ko y’ung ako ang iniimbestigahan,” he said.
(I can speak on this with authority because I have experienced being the one doing the investigation and the one being investigated.)
He cited how he, as the head of the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC) in 2019, effectively handled the “fake news” surrounding the committee’s utilization of the South East Asian (SEA) Games funds during the sporting event.
“Ang daming binato sa amin na ‘di totoo [pero] naka-focus lang kami sa opening, focus na maganda y’ung takbo ng Games, at focus na mag-overall champion tayo. And then, lumabas din y’ung totoo,” he said.
(A lot of lies were thrown at us but we remained focused on the opening, on ensuring that the games were smooth-sailing, and that we were going to be the overall champion. And then eventually the truth came out.)
Cayetano added that while there are instances when hearings are being “abused,” searching for the truth is essential to “ushering reforms” in the country.