MANILA – Peddlers of fake news should get themselves disinfected, Malacañang said on Monday denying reports that there will soon be a nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of the new coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea dismissed as “fake news” reports circulated on social media showing a photo of a document supposedly declaring a nationwide lockdown where food will be rationed every three days.
“Those who spread fake news should have themselves disinfected. They are now moving faster than the virus itself. The virus is worried and sees them as competitors and is now looking for them. Watch out!” he said in a text message to reporters.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said there was no truth to rumors of a national lockdown.
“Absolutely not true. Stop believing false news and information,” he said.
He also appealed to the public to refrain from listening to fake news which could not only mislead but also create panic and anxiety.
Panelo, however, confirmed that President Rodrigo Duterte is seeking extra powers to carry out urgent measures to address the Covid-19 national emergency.
On March 21, Duterte issued Proclamation 933 calling on Congress to a special session that it may pass a law authorizing him to exercise these extra powers.
“The declared national policy is to stop the spread of the coronavirus that threatens public safety. To implement the same there are urgent measures that the President may need to effectively thwart the proliferation of Covid-19,” he said.
He explained that these additional powers will allow Duterte to fund projects to “respond swiftly to the evolving health crisis” and allow him to “realign funds in the national budget.”
“They are to be channeled to where they are needed to effectuate the success of the national objective of eliminating the grave threats facing the nation and satisfy the food requirements of those economically dislocated by reason of the forced home quarantine especially those belonging to the marginalized or vulnerable sectors of society during its implementation,” he said.
He assured that Duterte is utilizing all the resources of the government to secure the safety of all Filipinos.
If enacted, the proposed measure also allows Duterte to temporarily takeover operations including hotels and other similar establishments to house health workers; serve as quarantine areas, quarantine centers; medical relief and aid distribution locations or other temporary medical facilities.
The proposed bill also protects the public from hoarding, profiteering, manipulation of prices, and other illegal activities affecting the supply, distribution, and movement of food, clothing, medicine, and medical supplies, fuel, fertilizers, chemicals, building materials, spare parts required in agriculture, and other necessary items.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles earlier said Duterte was looking for “flexibility” to use make realignments in the 2020 national budget.
“Ang hinahanap lang naman ng Malacañang ay magamit yung budget na nasa General Appropriations Act or yung budget for 2020 na mabigyan ng flexibility si Pangulo na yung ibang mga provisions doon sa budget bill ay magagamit niya para sa pangangailangan ng ating paglaban dito sa Covid-19 (Malacañang is hoping that the President would be given the flexibility to use part of the provisions in the budget for the government’s fight against Covid-19),” he said in an interview over GMA-7 on Sunday.
He said Duterte will leave it to Congress to decide whether or not to grant his request.
Congress is expected to deliberate on the proposed bill granting extra powers on Monday. (PNA)