We’re doing something wrong, Robredo says on gov’t COVID-19 response
MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo expressed alarm that something may be wrong with the government’s response to the COVID-19 crisis and hopes President Rodrigo Duterte would announce steps to correct the mistakes when he delivers his fifth State of the Nation Address (Sona) today.
“This is alarming because we are almost certainly doing something that is not right,” Robredo said in Tagalog during her radio show on Sunday. “If we are doing the right things, the number of cases wouldn’t be this high.”
The Vice President said the Philippines already has the most number of active cases among Southeast Asian countries, and she noted it took the country less than a month to record more than 78,000 cases on Saturday from around 40,000 at the end of June.
“If we cannot arrest the increase, experts have said that we may reach 130,000 by the end of August,” she said.
80,448 cases now
According to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center, Indonesia had the most number of cases in Southeast Asia with 97,286 cases as of Saturday (24th in the world) while the Philippines had 78,412 (30th in the world).But the Department of Health reported on Sunday that the national tally had reached 80,448. “We have 50,764 active cases. We have already beaten Indonesia because we have more active cases, ” Robredo said.
“Our neighboring countries are already returning to normal. We are still trying to get back to normal, but while cases continue to increase, it will be hard for us to normalize,” she added.
Opposition Sen. Risa Hontiveros, for her part, said the government should “apologize for its shortcomings in the last few months” and focus on the contagion instead of “featuring more denials, threats and downplaying of the pandemic.”The government’s management of the crisis was also the theme of the homily Manila Archdiocese administrator Bishop Broderick Pabillo prepared for Sunday.
‘Making the wrong choices’
“Maybe the government is making the wrong choices … that’s why they easily accuse those who go against them; terror law is there; now they are opening discussions for Charter Change,” Pabillo said in the homily that was read by Msgr. Esteban Lo during Mass at the Parish of Our Lady of the Abandoned in Mandaluyong City.“Are the things they’re doing helping the nation? Did the removal of the franchise of ABS-CBN help the country? Did the enactment of the antiterror law provide a solution to the spread of COVID-19? Will constitutional change respond to the needs of the jobless?” the bishop asked in Tagalog.
“Maybe the choices were wrong. Wrong because the heart is not in serving the people, but only themselves,” Pabillo added. Pabillo urged the faithful to “use freedom well. We are now experiencing the wrong use of freedom, the wrong choice of those who govern us. Let us not compound this mistake with our own misguided use of freedom,” he added.
Catholic priest Jerome Secillano, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, was more conciliatory in urging the government to step up.
“This is not the time to blame anybody. This is not the time to criticize anybody. This is the time for us to know the truth,” he said in an interview over Church-run Radio Veritas. Sen. Nancy Binay agreed: “I hope the Sona does not dwell much on what was done or who’s to blame. We are way past that … We, in the Senate, are ready and willing to support government’s plans,” she said.
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said Filipinos were not interested in “soaring oratory,” but in a battle plan.
“They are not even interested in bold strokes. What they want to hear is the to-do list in a wartime Sona that will spell out the battle plan against the pandemic,” Recto said. INQ
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