Robredo tempted to seek authority over PH’s COVID-19 response: It would be better
MANILA, Philippines —In a bold move, Vice President Leni Robredo admitted to wanting to ask the administration for a “blanket authority” for its COVID-19 response, saying it would probably be better if she participated.
During an interview with Rappler Talk aired on Friday, Robredo said that the frustrating situation in the country — almost two years into the pandemic — makes her want to involve herself in the administration’s programs just to improve it as several programs that should be implemented are left untapped.
“Alam mo, nate-tempt na ako magsabi na pwede bang bigyan niyo ako ng pagkakataon na tumulong at magmanage basta bigyan lang ako ng blanket authority. Siguro naman mag-iimprove naman ito,” she said.
(You know, I am being tempted to say if it is possible for them to give me a chance to help manage the pandemic, as long as they give me blanket authority. Maybe our situation would improve.)
“Ang daming kailangang gawin na hindi ginagawa, and nakaka-sama ng loob kasi last year pa to hinihingi, last year pa hinihingi,” she added.
(There is so much to do that has not been done, and it is disheartening to know that we were asking for this since last year.)
Since the pandemic started, Robredo has provided insights on how the government can manage the health crisis, but government officials have just brushed her suggestions aside.
Despite the many programs that the Office of the Vice President (OVP) has, Robredo has no official mandate in the COVID-19 response.
If ever she would be appointed to any position concerning the COVID-19 response, it would be Robredo’s third cabinet stint after short tenures over the Housing sector and the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs.
During the discussions with Rappler, Robredo also brought up her old accusations that the government is operating without a leader, as President Rodrigo Duterte’s leadership cannot be felt as it seems branches of government are operating without coordinating with each other.
“‘Yong recommendation ko from the very start, kailangan may kundoktor. Talagang walang leadership na nararamdaman, a lot of the government agencies are doing many different kinds of work, hindi natin matatawaran ‘yong mga ginagawa ng mga ahensya, pero ‘yong ginagawa kasi ng mga ahensya kailangan may kundoktor eh,” Robredo said.
(My recommendation from the very start is that there should be a conductor. We really do not feel any leadership; a lot of the government agencies are doing many different kinds of work that we cannot downplay. But what they are doing should be coordinated by a conductor.)
“Kailangan may leader sa taas na sinisiguro niya na nahaharmonize niya lahat ng nangyayari, ‘yon ‘yong aking frustration for so long,” she added.
(We really need a leader at the top who would assure that all the programs of the departments will be harmonized — that is my frustration for so long.)
But in terms of frustrations, Robredo also said that the fact that possible corruption may have occurred in the government’s transactions for the COVID-19 pandemic is very frustrating in itself, as Filipinos have been enduring and dealing with the shortage of funds in terms of health workers’ benefits and social aid.
Recently, there were observations made by the Commission on Audit that the Department of Health’s COVID-19 funds worth P67.32 billion had several deficiencies that led to missed opportunities amid the pandemic.
Then, there is also the issue of overpriced face shields and face masks being procured from a shady company that has links to various administration officials and allies.
“‘Yong frustration na ‘yon nadagdagan many times over, na alam mo ‘yon, you are confronted with the realization na ‘yong mere possibility was happening in the middle of the pandemic, na nagkakamatayan ‘yong mga tao dahil kulang ng gamit, sinasabi walang pera, pagod na pagod na ‘yong mga health workers, walang pambayad. Ang daming nagugutom, kulang sa ayuda,” Robredo said.
(The frustration increased several times over, that you know, we are confronted with the realization that the mere possibility of corruption happened in the middle of the pandemic, where people died because they lacked medical equipment and funds to purchase them. Health workers are tired, but we can’t pay them. Many are hungry, but we don’t have social aid.)
“‘Yong possibility na grabe ‘yong corruption (is frustrating), sa akin lang, habang lahat tayo naghihirap, pinagkakasya natin kung ano ‘yong nandyan tapos mangyayari ‘yong ganito?” she added.
(The possibility of grave corruption (is frustrating), for me, as we are all struggling to survive and are trying to accommodate everybody’s needs — then you would know that things like these happen?)
Currently, the country is still gripping with a new COVID-19 surge attributed to the Delta variant, which is said to be 60 percent more infectious than the Alpha variant.
As of Friday, the country recorded 20,310 new COVID-19 infections for the second-highest single-day jump in cases. This pushed the active case count to 158,994.
Despite the high number of cases, President Duterte maintained last Tuesday that the Philippines’ situation is better than other countries because of its allegedly lower death count.
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