Duterte should assuage fears vs new virus, says Robredo | Inquirer News

Duterte should assuage fears vs new virus, says Robredo

/ 04:56 AM February 03, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo on Sunday said President Rodrigo Duterte himself must address the nation to help allay fears over the 2019 novel coronavirus (nCoV), following the second confirmed case in the country and the first recorded death outside of mainland China.

Amid growing anxiety over the spread of the new virus in the country, the Vice President also appealed for swift, decisive and aggressive action from the government to address the growing public health concern.


“It’s best if the President would come out to the public to make the statements,” she said in her weekly radio show.

“We know that his popularity among the people is very high. If he himself assured that everything is under control and that all measures are being undertaken, I think the people’s fears will be lessened,” she added.


Public distrust

Robredo said that there seemed to be distrust among the public because official pronouncements from Duterte were being coursed through his different “messengers.”

Since the confirmation of the first nCoV case in the country, the President has yet to make a public appearance or personal pronouncement on how to contain the virus and address the health situation.

Instead, his decisions had been coursed through presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo, or through Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go, who had stepped down from being his special assistant when he ran for his current legislative post.

Robredo also expressed dismay over the delayed ban on flights coming from mainland China, which Mr. Duterte had earlier decried as a move that “would not be fair.”

Suspension of flights

On Sunday, the President, through Go anew, declared the temporary suspension of flights from mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

“This is a welcome development, but we only hope that it was done sooner,” Robredo said. “But we still welcome it, because it can help lessen the worries of our countrymen.”

“I think what the people are looking for is an assurance that everything is being done to protect everyone. Without that, there will always be doubts and fears because we do not know how the government is responding,” she added.


The Vice President also appealed to Filipinos to respect Chinese nationals amid the outbreak, saying that they, too, are victims of the virus.

The President’s evident absence amid the nCoV scare has not been spared by critics, and even by some of his supporters.

On Friday, the hashtag “OustDuterte” was among the top trends on Twitter, with social media users demanding to know Duterte’s whereabouts in the height of the growing public concern.

By Friday evening, over 17,000 tweets had used the hashtag, with users expressing dismay over the government’s lack of urgency in addressing the virus.

Malacañang had announced then that government officials would meet this week to discuss the matter.

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TAGS: Leni Robredo, NcoV, novel coronavirus, Rodrigo Duterte
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