MANILA - An online petition calling for President Rodrigo Duterte's resignation over his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and alleged subservience to China has gathered over 50,000 signatures Monday, days after it was launched by various groups in the country.
"This statement will attest that people are no longer satisfied. If he doesn’t step down, then at least, the positive effect of this is it has made more people aware, made more people to be able to stand up and speak up," Dr. Edelina De La Paz, chairperson of Health Alliance for Democracy, told ANC.
The Change.org petition titled "Save the Nation! Duterte Resign!" was initially signed by some 500 medical workers, lawyers, businessmen, members of the academe, media workers and civic leaders.
For De La Paz, the petition is not a political statement but an authentic call for the President to step down.
"Yes because the situation is already too much. You have the pandemic, which is worsening. One year na tayong naka-lockdown, wala namang nangyayari (We've been locked down for 1 year and nothing's happening)," she said.
"Tapos ang sitwasyon sa West Philippine Sea is so volatile that really a policy has to be imposed. Those islands are ours. Ang nakakabahala pa, payag siyang ipalit ang soberanya natin para lang sa bakuna (What's disturbing is he's willing to trade our sovereignty in exchange of vaccines)," she added.
Since the pandemic began, the Philippines has recorded over 936,000 COVID-19 infections, of which more than 15,000 people died. The country currently has over 141,000 active cases or patients deemed infectious.
For the past weeks, Philippine officials have also filed diplomatic protests against China's latest incursion in the West Philippine Sea, with dozens of Chinese militia vessels spotted in the Julian Felipe Reef.
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.)