MANILA - Malacañang on Monday denied the Duterte administration is using propaganda to disprove the Philippines is lagging behind other countries in terms of responding to the COVID-19 crisis.
Vice President Leni Robredo had urged the government to address its low ranking among countries by learning from other nations, and not by using the pandemic as an excuse.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the administration is just repeating the World Health Organization's assessment of the country's COVID response.
“Baka magalit ang World Health Organization dahil sinasabi ninyo nagpapakalat ng propaganda. Hindi po! World Health Organization po ang nagsabi kung nasaan na tayo sa ating COVID response. At ito po ang katotohanan,” he said.
“Bakit namin paniniwalaan ang ibang pag-aaral, eh samantalang lahat tayo nagtitiwala sa World Health Organization sa panahon ng pandemya? Hindi po propaganda 'yan," he added.
An Australian think-tank Lowy Institute earlier ranked the Philippines 79th out of 98 nations for its handling of the coronavirus crisis.
It lagged behind its Southeast Asian neighbors, beating only Indonesia, which stood at 85th place. Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore ranked 2nd, 4th and 13th, respectively.
Roque said that as of February, the Philippines is 32nd among countries with the largest total COVID-19 cases in the world, and 45th in terms of active cases.
“At yung ating COVID-19 cases per 1 million population, nasa 134 po tayo--laylayan. At sa case fatality rate, number 72 ang Pilipinas. Hindi po 'yan propaganda. Katotohanan na dapat tanggapin at pasalamatan ang mga medical frontliners na talaga naman pong ginagawa ang lahat para pangalagaan ang kalusugan ng mga Pilipino,” he said.
The Department of Health reported 1,658 additional COVID-19 cases in the Philippines, bringing the country's total confirmed coronavirus infections to 527,272.
Of the total, 28,891 are active. Nearly 11,000 have died and over 487,000 have recovered from the deadly disease.