Palace to gov’t media: Stress PH ranking in COVID-19 fight
MANILA, Philippines — The Palace communications arm on Wednesday defended a newly issued memorandum directing government media platforms to “convey to the public that the Philippines is faring better than many other countries in addressing the pandemic” and “carry regular updates about the world data on COVID-19.”
The memo dated April 27 and signed by Undersecretary George Apacible, officer in charge of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), said “[t]hese updates should be incorporated in, but not limited to, TV and radio newscasts (morning, noon, primetime and late evening) as well as in daily social media posts.”
In a statement confirming the directive, Virginia Agtay, head of the PCOO’s news and information bureau, said it was President Duterte who gave the instruction “to provide adequate information and convey working policies (to the public), particularly those that aim to address the effects of the pandemic in the country.”
“There is nothing wrong with this, nor is it a lie, it is simply amplifying facts,” she added.
She added: “The President’s directive is to convey these positive messages to the people and these favorable news as part of our good governance outcomes. Rather than to proliferate fear, uncertainty, disinformation, and fake news, we want people to put their trust and to work with the government in fighting COVID-19.”
Among the global and local statistics that Agtay said deserved to be highlighted is the country’s comparative ranking in several COVID-19-related categories.
She cited the following examples:
• The Philippines is fourth among 10 Asean countries in vaccine rollout as of March 1 of this year, ahead of Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and Brunei, according to recent data from Bloomberg and other foreign posts.
• It is on the 28th spot out of more than 200 countries and territories in the number of COVID-19 tests conducted, according to the statistical report of Worldometers.
• The country also placed 116th for COVID-19 mortality per one million people which, according to Agtay, “says much about our health capabilities and commitment to ensure the recovery of those who have contracted the virus.”
A copy of the memo surfaced online on Wednesday, three days after the country’s Covid-19 tally hit a million cases.
Lowest since April 7
The Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday recorded 6,895 new infections, pushing up the national case count to 1,020,495.
The latest daily case tally was the lowest since April 7, when 6,414 new cases were recorded. The DOH, however, said the lower April 7 tally was due to some labs declaring a Holy Week break.
An additional 115 patients have succumbed to the severe respiratory disease, raising the death toll to 17,031.
There were 67,769 active cases or currently sick patients after 10,739 patients have recovered from the illness, for a total number of 935,695 recoveries, the DOH reported.
Of the active cases, the majority or 94.9 percent are mild, 1.6 percent are asymptomatic, 1.4 percent have severe symptoms, 1.1 percent are in critical condition, and 0.95 are moderate.
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