MANILA - A group of doctors on Friday refuted President Duterte's claim that the government immediately responded to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"From the very start, there was a lack of sense of urgency on the part of government," Dr. Minguita Padilla, co-convenor of Doctors for Truth and Public Welfare, told ANC.
She cited the country's insufficient COVID-19 testing and delayed border control measures. The Philippines has now logged 900,000 infections, with over 183,000 active cases and more than 15,000 fatalities.
Padilla also noted the country was late in its inoculation drive. The country has so far administered 1.2 million jabs since it began vaccinating on March 1.
"You can't use being poor as an excuse for starting vaccinations slow. Indonesia [and] Bangladesh, they started earlier. We can't say because we are a poor country," she said.
Padilla also found Duterte's leadership in the COVID-19 war wanting.
"We are in a war... we need a Churchill. We need somebody who will tell the people that we are all having a difficult time. Lahat tayo nahihirapan pero kaya natin ito (We are struggling but we can overcome this)," she said.
For her, Duterte should "rally us more, rally us with emotion, with sincerity, with compassion, with empathy."
In his regular "Talk to the People" public address, Duterte said Thursday his administration didn't lack in responding to the crisis.
"I'd like to just disabuse the mind of nagkulang tayo. Wala na kayong tiningnan kundi ‘yung kagaguhan n’yo. Hindi tayo nagkulang," he said in a pre-recorded speech.
(I'd just like to disabuse the mind of the notion that we fell short. You see nothing but your own foolishness. We did not come up short.)
Duterte said his aides were all "bright," following the calls of some for the COVID-19 task force's abolition.
"Baka sabihin n'yo wala naman talagang solusyon ito. Meron po: itong kaharap n’yo, ‘wag na ako, palaos na ako," he said.
"Harap ka sa panel ‘yan… Puro bright ‘yan, puro valedictorian. Alam nila kung anong gawin nila. ‘Wag kayong mag-alala, we chose the right people to run the government."
(You might say that this has no solution. It has: this panel before me, don't include me. I'm almost done. Face that panel. They're all bright, all valedictorians. They know what to do. Do not worry.)