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The weekly briefings from Malacañang—held late in the evening on Mondays, in case you haven’t had the pleasure—reward persistent viewers with quite a bit of entertainment, and the latest one, on August 9, was no exception. But at least one senator was not amused.

Senator Risa Hontiveros issued a scathing statement Tuesday morning, August 10, with the headline, “Saklolo ang hinihingi ng ating mga LGU, hindi tsismis sa hatinggabi.” (“Local government units [LGUs] are asking for help, not midnight gossip.”)

Hontiveros was referring to President Duterte’s thinly veiled attacks on the mayor of the City of Manila, Francisco Domagoso, and Duterte’s subsequent threat to take power away from the local government units.

Hontiveros criticized the administration for “playing politics” in the statement written in English and Filipino, further saying that the “government should stop undermining the autonomy of the LGUs.”

Pulling no punches, Hontiveros also made reference to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque’s statement calling Duterte “the best communicator,” asking, “How is the so-called ‘best communicator’ the first to withhold from a local government unit? How, with the rotten and confusing systems from Malacañang, is there time to release a blind item?”

Read: Duterte has been watching Mayor Isko’s old ‘call boy’ videos and wants to withhold ayuda from Manila

Hontiveros called the LGUs the redeeming factor of the country’s pandemic response, commending governors, mayors, and barangay leaders for the way “they still keep going” with the limited resources and aid coming from the national government.

“I am also calling on the administration to rationalize the distribution of vaccines, especially for LGUs ready to receive and administer shots among their constituents and where cases are higher. In the middle of the intense surge of the Delta variant, there is still a lack of vaccine supply. For instance, the percentage of fully vaccinated individuals is second lowest in Region 7, higher only than BARMM. Hopefully [the government can] focus on the needs of priority areas and not on targeting their critics.”

This article, Sen Risa Hontiveros criticizes latest Malacañang briefing: ‘Saklolo, hindi chismis sa hatinggabi’, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia’s leading alternative media company.

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