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Davis: Former Minister Did Not Act On His Own

PLP leader Philip Davis. (File photo)

PLP leader Philip Davis. (File photo)

By EARYEL BOWLEG

ebowleg@tribunemedia.net

PROGESSIVE Liberal Party leader Philip “Brave” Davis called for explanations from the ministers of aviation, immigration and finance, saying former Health Minister Dr Duane Sands did not act alone in allowing Americans to disembark in the county.

At the party’s monthly press conference yesterday, Mr Davis said there are still many questions to answer regarding the six American permanent residents bringing COVID-19 test kits and being able to quarantine at home last week, which Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis called a breach in protocol. The debacle resulted in Dr Sands leaving his post.

The incident infuriated many Bahamians as the border was closed to citizens abroad until Dr Minnis recently announced efforts for them to come back home. Still, individuals would need to test negative for COVID-19 before arrival and be in a quarantine facility guarded by the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, officials have said.

The PLP leader said it was imperative for the prime minister and his ministers to “fully account to the Bahamian people and answer truthfully these questions.”

“What I’m saying is it is very difficult to believe that Dr Sands acted alone and the mere fact of all the ministries that had to be involved for the end result of the matter,” he said.

“It gives me comfort...that others ought to have known or should have known and if they don’t know they were negligent in their own duties.”

He explained: “We believe that there are other ministers who have to explain and account for what happened in this matter.

“The persons who entered had to get the permission of the Civil Aviation Authority, the Immigration Department and the Customs Department. This means that the ministers of aviation, immigration and finance have explanations to give to the country for their conduct or for the conduct of their departments.”

According to the Cat Island, Rum Cay and San Salvador MP, the attorney general must say whether or not the law was broken in the circumstances. He questioned what export laws of another country were violated by transporting the COVID-19 tests into The Bahamas.

The Tribune previously reported that former Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe connected Dr Sands with donors who supplied 2,500 test swabs that cost $11,250, prompting an effort by the health minister to get the swabs here.

Dr Sands got approval from Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar for a N-578GC aircraft to deliver the supplies to the country. He then got the go ahead from Immigration Director Clarence Russell for the passengers.

Mr D’Aguilar told Dr Sands officials had been insisting that people coming to the country provide a negative COVID-19 test to gain entry. The Freetown MP deferred to the health minister to make the call and Dr Sands allowed the passengers entry without testing them.

The residents were not tested until last Thursday, a day after they arrived in the country. They have tested negative for the virus, the prime minister has said.

With this knowledge, there are some asking for Mr D’Aguilar to step down as well.

In regards to Mr Wilchcombe’s part in the matter, Mr Davis had little to say about his PLP colleague.

“If Mr Wilchcombe, as a citizen, provided Dr Sands with information, I don’t know if that goes any further than that. I don’t know the context they spoke from what I’ve seen. It appears that Mr Wilchcombe would’ve made the introduction and that was about it,” he said.

In the wake of this controversy, some have questioned if it was appropriate for Dr Sands to resign during a pandemic.

Despite Dr Sands’ capabilities, Mr Davis said one must face the consequences.

He explained: “….For him to continue in the post of minister of health would not be the message they’re sending to the country as a whole. So we have to balance what we think about his worth with the balance of what I call the overall common good which relates to good governance and I think good governance trumps the belief of what he could have done for the country.”

While he was minister of works during the last Christie administration, Mr Davis was accused of misleading Parliament over a Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science (BAMSI) matter in which he made two conflicting statements in the House of Assembly. The Free National Movement, the opposition party then, demanded his immediate resignation.

When this was brought up, Mr Davis defended himself, saying he did not mislead Parliament, adding that the score was settled by the 2017 general election.

“What general elections are for - to settle all scores,” he said. “They would’ve brought all those issues up during the course of the election campaign and perhaps I’m here. So at least my constituents understood and accepted my view of the situation.”

Comments

joeblow 10 months ago

Even when Davis speaks the truth nobody listens because he has no credibility. So sad!

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tetelestai 10 months ago

I think that is a pejorative indictment on us as a people. We want the truth as long as it comes from someone we "like". Part of the reason why we are in the state that we are in now.

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moncurcool 10 months ago

So true. And I will admit I didn't even read the article as Davis has no grounds to talk about cabinet resignations. So I wouldn't waste my time to read or listen to anything he says.

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TalRussell 10 months ago

Apparently, the emergency of having to go street hustling in search of food is the more punishable of the colony's two penal code acts...right up there with act committed against a Stallion?
Rest assured that the Homeless don't fly into the colony under the radar the Emergency Act, onboard the luxury of a $1.6 million aircraft. Nod once for yeah, Twice for no?

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Well_mudda_take_sic 10 months ago

He {Davis} questioned what export laws of another country were violated by transporting the COVID-19 tests into The Bahamas.

Davis makes a very good point here. President Trump signed an executive order making it illegal (a most serious Federal offense) for any US natural or corporate person to export or otherwise remove from the US any medical supplies whatsoever without making application to, and receiving the express consent of, the appropriate Federal authorities. It therefore seems the American family, anxious to 'buy' their way into their residential community in Bahamas under what can only be described as a quid pro quo arrangement, broke serious US Federal laws grounded in a Presidential Executive Order.

This of course raises many issues for the Bahamian government given that at least one of its senior cabinet ministers (Sands) participated in the arrangement, and possibly another (D'Aguilar). In fact this is probably the real reason why Sands had absolutely no choice but to resign....the writing was too clearly on the wall that he had aided and abetted the American family in breaking Federal laws by providing the 'quid' for their 'quo'. Sands could well end up on the persona non grata list maintained by US Customs and Immigration Services not to mention a host of other possible serious repercussions for not only him personnaly but also our government. My advice to Sands, get a very good lawyer. And D'Aguilar should consider doing likewise.

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tetelestai 10 months ago

Hate on Brave all you want (not literally saying that you do that - though you do), but when it comes to matters of law, he is usually surprisingly astute.

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themessenger 10 months ago

Why this lying dishonest little hamster go sit in a corner and try and find the BAMSI insurance policy that never existed.............

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themessenger 10 months ago

Might also want to give Obie and Freddie a call so yinna could at least be on the same page in your efforts to undermine the government.

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Hoda 10 months ago

He should asks these questions, then respond to the allegations in the new york post article that came out on may 4th, against nygard and the members of the former plp govt.

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realitycheck242 10 months ago

God help us all if Davis has become the moral authority of this country.He has yet to answer the Questions surrounding the BAMSI insurance and fire ….SMT...how could a sitting MP call the BAMSI scandal "settling score"

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TigerB 10 months ago

His dream is to be prime minister, so the idea here is to get all of the government to resign then he and his 3 would take over.. it could only be a dream!

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