Duterte’s SONA bares admin plan vs pandemic: Wait for China’s vaccine – Bayan
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) has only revealed that his administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic “was primarily to wait for a vaccine from China.”
The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) said this Tuesday, as it slammed Duterte’s penultimate SONA which it said lacked a clear roadmap to address the COVID-19 crisis.
Duterte’s fifth SONA was held Monday at the Batasang Pambansa sans the usual glamor and fanfare and before a meager audience of political allies wearing face masks.
“His pandemic response was primarily to wait for a vaccine from China,” Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes said in a statement.
“There was no roadmap or comprehensive plan to address backlogs in testing and validation and the upgrading of the health system after many hospitals reached maximum capacity,” he added.
Reyes also chided Duterte for having misplaced priorities, as his first statements centered on criticizing the Lopez family and their broadcasting company ABS-CBN – already shut down by a House panel, and throwing jabs at opposition stalwart, Senator Franklin Drilon.
Aside from these tirades in his SONA, Duterte also threatened oligarchs and telecommunications companies. This comes at a time when the Department of Education plans a shift to distance learning or online classes, which necessitates a stable internet connection.
“A true SONA should have started with an acknowledgment of the severity of the health crisis, the increasing number of cases and deaths, and the problems in containing the spread of the virus – not a jab at critics and a TV network,” Reyes explained.
“The entire SONA was meant to distract us from the pressing issue of the pandemic and economic crisis. Duterte used populist rhetoric when took a swipe against oligarchs and telcos. He raised divisive issues such as the death penalty,” he added.
On Monday, Office of the Vice President spokesperson Barry Gutierrez said it was as if Duterte’s speech was written way before the pandemic started and that no efforts were made to change it to adapt to current scenarios.
As of July 28, the Philippines has 83,673 coronavirus cases, including 1,947 deaths.
Although many quarters criticize Duterte’s SONA, administration officials like presidential spokesperson Harry Roque expectedly extolled the President’s report to the nation nevertheless.
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