Robredo spokesman chides Roque: ‘Who really can’t set aside politics?‘
MANILA, Philippines — Lawyer Barry Guiterrez, spokesperson of Vice President Leni Robredo, chided on Wednesday presidential spokesperson Harry Roque for asking the opposition to avoid politicizing the government’s COVID-19 pandemic response.
Was it the opposition or administration officials who cannot set aside politics?
Gutierrez raised this point as he retweeted Roque’s request to the opposition.
“Filing cyberlibel cases against critics. Passing the anti-terror law. Closing down ABS-CBN. So who is it that cannot set aside politics in the face of the COVID-19 crisis?” Gutierrez tweeted in Filipino.
Pagsampa ng kaso ng cyberlibel sa mga kritiko. Pagpasa ng anti-terror law. Pagsara ng ABS-CBN. Sino na nga ulit ang hindi maisantabi ang pulitika sa harap ng krisis sa Covid-19? https://t.co/b1RNNtrCFS
— Barry Gutierrez (@barrygutierrez3) July 22, 2020
Earlier, Roque accused the opposition of “resorting to politicking” by insisting that the government had failed in its COVID-19 response.
“I don’t think we failed for as long as we did not meet the 3.5 [million] projection of UP [researchers from the University of the Philippines]. And UP has been very good at their forecast,” Roque said in an interview with CNN Philippines.
Roque was responding to Senate Minority Floor Leader Franklin Drilon, an opposition lawmaker, who said that the government failed to respond properly to the pandemic, noting that even Health Secretary Francisco Duque III lacked credibility to address the crisis.
“We will always have different points of view, particularly because he’s coming from the opposition and I think they’re resorting to politicking,” Roque said. “The appeal of the President is to concentrate on the COVID-19, set aside politicking for the time being which I think is a very wise policy.”
In the past few months, critics have been chiding the administration for prioritizing other matters — like the passage of the Anti-Terrorism Act, the shutdown of ABS-CBN, the anti-insurgency programs — over the health crisis.
On one occasion, Robredo even questioned the timeliness of the government’s decision to prioritize the enactment of the then anti-terrorism bill, noting that none of the measure’s provisions would help solve the COVID-19 problem.
Just recently, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate questioned the administration’s priorities after a supposed push for charter change despite a lot of people suffering economically during the pandemic.
The exchange between the administration and the Office of the Vice President is not the first, as Roque also called out Robredo before to help the government instead of merely criticizing and looking at the glass “half-empty.”
Robredo shot back, reminding Roque that her office had been filling the gaps in the “half-empty” COVID-19 response.
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