Maliit na bagay? Palace denies Duterte belittling COVID-19 crisis

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS CBN News

Posted at Mar 16 2021 04:29 PM

Maliit na bagay? Palace denies Duterte belittling COVID-19 crisis 1
President Rodrigo Duterte presides over a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) prior to his talk to the people at the Malacañang Golf (Malago) Clubhouse in Malacañang Park, Manila on March 15, 2021. King Rodriguez, Presidential Photo


MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte is not belittling the COVID-19 crisis despite a recent comment, Malacañang said on Tuesday, over a year into the Philippine pandemic lockdown that left millions jobless and thousands dead. 

Duterte had on late Monday told the public to refrain from despairing over the pandemic. 

"Maliit na bagay ito sa buhay natin. Marami tayong dinaanan mas ano, mas grabe, mas mahirap, mas magluluha... Huwag kayong matakot at hindi ko kayo iiwanan," he said. 

(This is a small matter in our life. We have gone through so many things that are worse, more difficult, more saddening. Do not be afraid for I will not leave you.)

Asked what the President meant by this, his spokesman Harry Roque, currently sick with COVID-19, said: "Ang sinasabi po ng Presidente ay patuloy naman pong ang Pilipinas ay nabubuhay sa kabila ng COVID-19."

(The President is saying that life goes on for the Philippines despite COVID-19.)

The Philippines has a lower death rate from COVID-19 than other richer countries with a better health care systems, he said. 

"Ang sinasabi ng Presidente, temporary lang 'yan, hindi po iyan forever, lilipas po iyan. At pagdating po ng bakuna, magkakaroon tayo ng solusyon sa ating problema, pagkakaroon pong tayo ng new normal," Roque said in a press briefing from quarantine.

"Hindi po minamaliit ng Presidente ang ating paghihirap pero ang sinasabi po niya, babangon naman po tayo d'yan, we will heal as one." 

(The President is saying it's only temporary, it's not forever, it will pass. And once the vaccines arrive, we will have a solution to our problem, we will have a new normal. The President is not belittling our suffering, but he is saying we will rise up, we will heal as one.) 

Video courtesy of PTV 


The Philippines is battling a surge in COVID-19 cases, recording the largest daily increase since mid-August on Monday with 5,404 new infections. This as its inoculation program just started. 

This has prompted Metro Manila, the country's coronavirus hotspot that is home to more than 12 million people, to prohibit minors from leaving their residences, reimpose nighttime curfews, ban liquor, and put in place localized lockdowns in areas with high infection rates. 

Facing criticism about a slow-moving vaccination drive, coronavirus strategy chief Carlito Galvez said more doses should arrive soon.

Galvez said there was no plan to halt the use of AstraZeneca's vaccine to inoculate health care workers, even as several European countries have paused its use after reports of possible serious side-effects.

The government has also signed an agreement with the Serum Institute of India for 30 million Novavax vaccine doses, due to arrive in the third or fourth quarter of the year, said Galvez.