The Women Against Crime and Corruption (WACC) group has called for a Commission of Inquiry (COI) into whether some Members of Parliament are responsible for the current COVID-19 community transmission and the lockdown.

The Founder of WACC and also a member of the Diplomacy Trading Programme Alumni Network in the Pacific, Jenny Ligo, said her organisation’s task is to protest against allegations of corruption in the Government, this is why the ordinary people have a right to be told how and who is or are behind introducing the first lot of new community cases in the country. She said while the Minister of Health’s latest Order on the first ever lockdown in the country is necessary, she challenges the Government to clarify rumours that an MP or MPs were responsible for introducing the virus to the communities.

“If this is the case let the Government name the culprit(s) for the public’s information; after all, it is the ordinary people that are now already beginning to suffer as a result of such carelessness,” she said. “On behind of the voiceless, I challenge the Government to consider prosecuting the MP carrier(s) of the virus into the communities here on Efate, as well as the possibility of already transporting it to Santo.”

She is asking the Government to consider terminating the public servants or officers who are in charge of quarantine services in hotels, the license of any security company for causing discomfort to the citizens of Port Vila, remove the current COVID-19 Taskforce and replace it with independent members consisting of 50% men and 50% women, remove any MP(s) who entertain and abuse Government COVID-19 rules from holding office in the current Government.

Finally, but not least, she stressed, “WACC and VHRD Hub call for all law breakers including those in Government to face the law like ordinary people. The Government must hold those breaking quarantine rules to face the full force of the law to show the world that Vanuatu is focused on fighting against corruption beginning with its own ranks to prove that the laws that are passed by Parliament are to be respected by Leaders all the way down to the grassroots.

While the Minister of Health, Bruno Leingkone, has extended the lockdown of Efate and its Offshore Islands one more day to today Thursday, the Prime Minister’s Office has been silent on the increasing Facebook allegations again the movement of certain MPs. Two days ago, Leader of Opposition Ralph Regenvanu was definitely disappointed when he specifically named Port Vila MP, Tony Iauko as an alleged MP reportedly breached established restrictions to connection with quarantine.

However, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Internal Affairs, Ishmael Kalsakau and MP Iauko, have individually denied any responsibility over any COVID-19 breakout into the communities, nor any breach of Government restrictions. In support of WACC, Dr. Andrina Thomas also asked why the ‘silence’ from the Government to deal decisively against the MP or MPs who were allegedly responsible for breaching established protocol enabling the virus to escape into the communities.

The Women’s Leader said, “Principles of good governance ethics and integrity standards dictate that Government must cooperate with responsiveness, rule of law, transparency, efficiency and effectiveness and accountability. “If the PSC Board and Management are too slow to make the appointments of Director Generals and Director which are still vacant today, they must remove all inefficient and ineffective persons and appoint persons of action to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the PSC and Government. “This call also goes to all other Ministries and Departments to ensure they understand good governance ethics and integrity standards training to recognise and reduce corruption in Government”.

It remains to be seen if the Government should decide to set up an Independent COI to look into the allegations of alleged breach of established protocol by MPs and in the process, contributed towards the latest outbreak of the virus into the communities. The current lockdown of all Government Offices mean we could not reach out to the responsible authorities for any response, prior to going to press.