As pandemic lockdown nears one year, Malacañang says: 'We were excellent'

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS CBN News

Posted at Mar 08 2021 02:36 PM | Updated as of Mar 08 2021 03:28 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte listens to Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian giving remarks during the ceremonial turnover of COVID-19 vaccine CoronaVac (SINOVAC) donated by the People's Republic of China at the Bulwagang Kalayaan in Villamor Air Base, Pasay City on February 28, 2021. King Rodriguez, Presidential Photo

MANILA — Malacañang said on Monday that the government showed "excellent" management of the COVID-19 pandemic, which prompted a nearly year-long lockdown that has left businesses struggling and millions jobless. 

The government has limited COVID-19 deaths to around 12,000, fewer than the "hundreds of thousands of deaths in countries that are more economically wealthy and with more developed health sectors," said Palace spokesman Harry Roque. 

"We were excellent. Na-control po natin ang pagkalat ng sakit, lalong-lalo na kung ikukumpara tayo sa mas mayayaman at mga bansa na mas mararami at moderno ang ospital," he said in a press briefing. 

(We controlled the spread of the disease, especially if we are compared to richer countries with more modern hospitals.)

The Philippine however so far amassed a total of USD13.34 billion or approximately P640.96 billion in loans for its COVID-19 response, data from the Department of Finance as of Dec. 15, 2020 show.

The amount of loans nearly doubled since July 1, 2020, when total government loans for COVID-19 response stood at USD7.73 billion (approximately P371.67 billion).

Roque maintained that the government did right in declaring a "just in time" lockdown to slow COVID-19 transmission in mid-March last year. 

"I think I will maintain that it has been excellent management. We regret that people died, but this is a pandemic, and we all know how how to prevent these deaths," Roque added. 

Video courtesy of PTV

The Philippines has tallied a total of 594,412 coronavirus infections, among the highest in Asia. The tally includes some cases of the more contagious coronavirus variants first identified in South Africa and Britain. 

The Philippines' stock of 600,000 vaccines made by China's Sinovac Biotech got a boost with the arrival on Thursday of more than 480,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine secured through the COVAX facility. 

An additional 38,400 AstraZeneca shots arrived on Sunday. 

The Philippines has been slower than some neighbors rolling out vaccines after supply shortages hobbled government efforts to secure millions of doses to inoculate 70 million of its 108 million people this year in a bid to achieve herd immunity. 

Last year, the Philippines suffered its worst economic contraction on record last year, when it slumped 9.5 percent, the biggest decline in Southeast Asia.

— With a report from Reuters