Focus should now be on economic effects of pandemic, Arroyo tells gov’t
MANILA, Philippines — Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Thursday gave her vote of confidence to the Duterte administration’s efforts in addressing the health impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, but said focus should now be given to the economic effects of the pandemic.
During a meeting with the House Committee on Economic Affairs on Thursday, Arroyo said the country is “not doing badly” in terms of the government’s COVID-19 response to the health sector, and is in fact “doing well,” given its less than four percent of the COVID-19 fatality rate compared to the global fatality rate of around five percent.
She added that the over 32,000 COVID-19 cases in the Philippines are still low compared to other countries if the figures will be based on its ratio to population.
“In the dilemma between health concerns and economic concerns after having imposed a long lockdown, the balance should now be tipped towards economic concerns. That is Congress’ position and I agree with you,” Arroyo said during the meeting.
“The economic aspect of the crisis should be given more focus now compared to the health aspect. We are not doing badly relative to the world,” she added.
Arroyo also pointed out that President Rodrigo Duterte “has demonstrated the willingness to take swift, strong action when needed,” saying he was among the first leaders to ban flights from China and that he started the enhanced community quarantine “very early” in March.
“Suppose that we attempt now (to focus) on the economic aspect and then there will be severe consequences in the health sector, we can be confident that the President will take necessary remedial measures,” she said.
Arroyo’s remark of Duterte is contrary to that of Vice President Leni Robredo and other critics who claimed that the country “did not act urgently” at the early stages of the pandemic.
Citing her experience in leading the fight against three virus outbreaks during her term, the former President noted that she has the highest respect for government officials leading the country’s response against the disease, starting from Duterte to National Task Force against COVID-19 chief implementer Sec. Carlito Galvez, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, and frontliners.
Arroyo was president during the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003, bird flu in 2006, and swine flu in 2009.
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