'Wag na tayo magsisihan': Duterte says stop coronavirus pandemic blame game

John Gabriel Agcaoili, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 23 2020 12:03 AM

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte said Filipinos should stop blaming others amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, a day after the Philippines' COVID-19 cases soared over 30,000.

"'Wag na lang tayo magsisihan kasi nandiyan na rin 'yan (COVID-19)," he said in a streamed public briefing in Malacañang late Monday night.

Duterte said the rise in the number of COVID-19 patients in Cebu province, one of areas in the Philippines severely hit by the virus, was somehow aggravated by local officials blaming each other.

"Ang Cebu ngayon ang may problema. May problema sila...alam mo kasi kapag may problema, tapunan na 'yan eh. If you solve a problem locally among the officials there, there's bound to be a derailment in the programs of government because they will start to blame each other," he said.

"And nobody would try to introduce novel ideas or even to implement one that is already measured...with proven efficacy kasi nagsisisihan na." 

Duterte said he will send Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu to Cebu to monitor the local situation and advise government "what they should be doing" in the province. 

"Balik Probinsya," Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go's pet project for people to go home to the provinces amid the pandemic, has also been criticized for lack of coordination with local government units.

Multiple beneficiaries of the program tested positive for COVID-19 shortly after arriving in their provinces.

Balik Probinsya was suspended in the second week of June to give way to the homecoming of those who are stranded in the capital region, according to the official in charge of the program.

Lawmakers have also been calling on Health Secretary Francisco Duqe III to step down from his post due to his department's alleged failures to contain the outbreak in the Philippines, despite a nearly 2-month lockdown in Metro Manila and other populated provinces.

The Office of the Ombudsman earlier expanded its probe on alleged lapses in the health department's COVID-19 response, including Duque and other health officials.

To date, the Philippines has 30,682 COVID-19 cases with 8,143 recoveries and 1,177 deaths.