During the nation address of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte last 25 May 2020, one of the private resource persons in attendance, Dr. Ma. Dominga “Minguita” Padilla, Project ARK medical team leader, condescendingly interjected that the concern regarding Returning Overseas Filipinos (ROFs) stems from “the ignorance only of the Local Government Units (LGUs)”. She then arrogantly volunteered to give LGUs a lecture on the matter to educate them because “they do not understand.”

We denounce the irresponsible, reckless, and false statement of Dr. Padilla. Contrary to her sweeping allegation, the LGUs, which were unjustly maligned by her statement, have been working tirelessly to address all concerns of their constituents, including the ROFs. To say that LGUs are “ignorant” and “do not understand” is but a reflection of her knowledge, or lack thereof, of how LGUs have been tirelessly working and coordinating with the National Government to implement measures and provide assistance to all Filipinos to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 despite limited resources.

LGUs are no strangers to heavy criticisms which are inevitably attached to public service. As front liners themselves, LGUs bear the brunt of the public’s clamor for a more adequate, immediate and efficient government response against the pandemic. Thus, the League believes that the LGUs, who carry a heavy burden and responsibility, deserve some degree of respect with their tremendous and unwavering efforts in serving their constituents during this pandemic.

On national television, Dr. Padilla displayed her own ignorance and disrespect to LGUs. What makes Dr. Padilla’s statement worse is that it was uttered during a time when the LGUs cannot afford to have their constituents lose faith and trust in them, as the cooperation and discipline of the people are paramount in preventing any further transmission of COVID-19. Evidently, Dr. Padilla did not only degrade the LGUs, but also set their efforts to naught in front of the entire Filipino nation.

Since her statement was done publicly, her private letter to the undersigned is not the proper way for her to sincerely own up to her mistake. The responsible thing to do, is for her to issue or post a public apology in social media for her insulting and arrogant remarks against all LGUs.

The League assures the public that the LGUs have been working unrelentingly to win this war against COVID-19. The plight suffered by each and every Filipino is a plight all LGUs share as we continue to endeavor to provide efficient and adequate assistance for all. We pray that the Filipino people keep their faith in the LGUs as we strive to heal as one. ###

(Sgd) GOV. PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR

National President