PCOO confirms Duterte order to 'convey we are faring better' than others vs COVID-19

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 28 2021 04:43 PM | Updated as of Apr 28 2021 07:15 PM

PCOO confirms Duterte order to 'convey we are faring better' than others vs COVID-19 1
President Rodrigo Duterte talks to the people after holding a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members at the Malacañang Golf (Malago) Clubhouse in Malacañang Park, Manila on April 15, 2021. King Rodriguez, Presidential Photo/File 

MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte ordered government news agencies to "convey that we are faring better than other countries" in handling the COVID-19 crisis, the Presidential Communications Operations Office said on Wednesday, adding "there is nothing wrong with this." 

This, amid a continuing rise in coronavirus cases over a year since its onset, and delays in the acquisition of vaccines seen to halt the contagion. The Philippines' total tally of COVID-19 cases breached the 1-million mark earlier this week. 

A leaked memo showed that "pursuant to the directive of the President," all government media platforms must carry regular COVID-19 updates, "specifically to convey to the public that the Philippines is faring better than many other countries in addressing the pandemic." 

"Yes, there is a memo directing us to give updates on world data regarding COVID-19 and to convey that we are faring better than other countries," Virginia Arcilla-Agtay of the PCOO Integrated News Team said in a statement. 

Duterte "has given the instruction in order to provide adequate information and convey working policies, particularly those that aim to address the effects of the pandemic in the country," said Arcilla-Agtay, director of the News and Information Bureau. 

"There is nothing wrong with this, nor is it a lie, it is simply amplifying facts," she said in a statement. 
 
"And here are the facts: Regionally and globally, we have achieved a reputable and efficient response to the virus as compared to some developed, more advanced, and less densely-populated countries," the official added said. 

Arcilla-Agtay said the OCTA research group has noted that the reproductive number of the coronavirus has gone done, and recent data from Bloomberg reportedly show that the Philippines ranks 4th in terms of vaccine rollout. 

The Philippines is at the 116th spot for COVID-19 mortality per 1 million people, "which says much about our health capabilities and commitment to ensure the recovery of those who have contracted the virus," she added. 

"The President’s directive is to convey these positive messages to the people and these favorable news as part of our good governance outcomes," said Arcilla-Agtay. 

"Rather than to proliferate fear, uncertainty, disinformation, and fake news, we want people to put their trust and to work with the government in fighting COVID-19." 

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Metro Manila and 4 surrounding provinces are under the second strictest quarantine level at least until April 30 to curb the uptick in coronavirus cases. 

The Philippines is currently 26th in the world with the most number of infections, recording the second highest number of cases in Southeast Asia, next only to Indonesia, according to the Johns Hopkins University and Medicine tracker. 

It has vaccinated at least 1.5 million people against COVID-19 since March 1, far from the goal of 70 million people or two-thirds of its population this year to reach herd immunity.