Arroyo: I have ‘highest respect’ for Duterte, Galvez, Duque
MANILA, Philippines — Citing her experience in leading the fight against three virus outbreaks during her term, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Thursday said she has the highest respect for government officials and those at the forefront of the Philippines’ response against the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic.
Arroyo was president of the country during the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003, bird flu in 2006, and swine flu in 2009.
She noted that “it is easy to criticize when you are seated at the sidelines” and that actual “gladiators at the arena” have a very different perspective in dealing with crises.
“I was head of our government in the SARS, avian flu, and swine flu. From that perspective, I must say that I have nothing but the highest respect for all of those in our government now battling in the arena, from President [Rodrigo] Duterte to Sec. [Carlito] Galvez, to Sec. [Francisco] Duque and to each and every frontliner in the trenches and checkpoints, many of whom have given their lives in this fight,” said Arroyo, also a former House Speaker, during a meeting with the House Committee on Economic Affairs.
“I have been in the arena, so I think I have earned the right to say that an ounce of their effort is worth more than the ton of criticism they receive day in and day out,” she added.
Likewise, Arroyo said she has the same amount of respect for civilians “keeping the basic wheels of the country going” in other sectors.
Arroyo made the remark amid criticism in the country’s response against the pandemic, where 32,295 individuals have already been infected, including 1,204 who died and 8,656 who have recovered.
The remark was also made over a week after Ombudsman Samuel Martires announced he ordered an investigation on Duque and other Department of Health officials over alleged irregularities on the agency’s response to COVID-19.
Despite this investigation and calls for resignation for Duque, Duterte has consistently expressed support and voiced for the integrity of the Health Secretary and other officials of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases.
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