De Lima: Duterte rant vs Makabayan bloc ‘damage control’ for pandemic response shortcoming
MANILA, Philippines—Detained opposition Sen. Leila De Lima on Wednesday (Dec. 2) described President Rodrigo Duterte’s branding of the leftwing Makabayan bloc of legislators as a “diversionary tactic” to distract attention away from his administration’s shortcomings on COVID-19 response.
In a dispatch from her cell in Camp Crame, the Philippine National Police headquarters in Quezon City, De Lima said Duterte’s rant against critics were but “desperate attempts at damage control.”
“It’s supposed to be a President’s weekly report on the COVID-19 situation but what we’ve been hearing since Day 1 are desperate attempts at damage control,” said De Lima. “In his latest address to the nation, he went on a red-tagging rampage against the Makabayan bloc, clearly a diversionary tactic.”
Duterte has been addressing the nation every Monday since the pandemic struck in March. The weekly address, streamed live and broadcast by government station PTV, is often used for announcements and guidelines on COVID-19 protocol.
In many instances, however, the address turns into rant sessions for Duterte against critics of his administration.
In his latest address last Monday (Nov. 30), the President said the military was correct in identifying the Makabayan bloc, a gathering of members of the House of Representatives from leftwing party-list groups, as participants in “the grand conspiracy comprising all the legal fronts” led by the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
“Again, may I repeat for the nth time, we are not tagging you, we are identifying you as communists,” Duterte said during his profanity-laden address last Monday.
De Lima, Duterte’s arch enemy, said the President should stop babbling and instead address the pandemic.
“He’s rambled on so much and the people whom he lashed out at are the ones who have done more during this crisis,” said De Lima, who has been sent to jail while awaiting court rulings on what she said were trumped up drug charges.
“Duterte should stop with his rants that have only harassed the Makabayan bloc, his critics, and the defenders of human rights,” said De Lima, former head of the Commission on Human Rights.
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