Duterte lacks sense of urgency in COVID-19 response – Robredo
MANILA, Philippines — If his weekly, late-night presidential addresses are any indication, President Rodrigo Duterte appears to lack a sense of urgency and attention to the details in the country’s pandemic response, Vice President Leni Robredo said on Monday.
Robredo made the statement in a rare direct criticism of the chief executive who had repeatedly sidelined and dismissed her recommendations.
Specifically, she said the president’s last two addresses — both of which were spent disparaging the Commission on Audit (COA) and Senators Panfilo Lacson and Richard Gordon, as well as coming to the defense of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and his former economic adviser Michael Yang — “were really quite frustrating,” she added in an interview with ANC’s “Headstart.”
“We’re in the middle of a pandemic where you need all hands on deck and yet the greater part of those conferences were spent berating our senators and COA,” she said.
Last week, Robredo admitted to having been tempted to ask for “blanket authority” to take charge of the country’s pandemic response, which she has repeatedly slammed as directionless and ineffective.
If she had her way, Robredo said she would have redirected available funds to the healthcare system. Unfortunately, “I am not privy to what is happening at the top so I don’t know what the exact problem is.”
“The government keeps saying we have no money and yet we keep seeing COA reports saying so much are not being utilized,” she noted. “There seems to be a disconnect at the top [but] all the more reason to need someone on top of all this.”
Manila City Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso, for his part, on Monday hit the national government for spending billions on face shields, saying the money should have gone instead to stocking up COVID-19 medicines.
Depleted stocks of meds
But since August, hospitals have been sounding the alarm on the depleting stocks of tocilizumab and remdesivir as the number of infections continued to rise. (See related story on Page A2.)The DOH said a global shortage of investigational drugs to treat severe COVID infection might last until the end of the year.
“My appeal to this government agency [is to] buy remdesivir. Buy tocilizumab. Not just face shields.
These are what the people need,” Domagoso said Monday at the groundbreaking of a city housing project.
“We were surprised [that the government] spent billions and billions [of pesos] on face shields. It’s not even backed by science,” he added.
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