MANILA — Malacañang spokesman Harry Roque said on Wednesday he was still friends with Iloilo Mayor Jerry Treñas, who scored him for remarks over the city's compliance with COVID-19 rules and its vaccine supply.
Treñas earlier this week appealed for more COVID-19 shots from the national government, which prompted Roque to say that coronavirus surges are caused by neglect of health protocols and more infectious variants, and not the vaccine supply.
The mayor in turn criticized Roque for supposedly finding fault instead of looking for ways to help.
"OK naman si Harry but minsan, mas mabilis ang bunganga niya sa utak niya," he said in a One News PH interview on on Tuesday."
(Harry is OK but sometimes his mouth is faster than his brain.)
Roque said he has since talked to Treñas.
Asked if they remain friends, the Palace spokesman said, "Of course."
"My mother [is] from Jaro. I’m an Ilonggo," he said in a text message.
In a press briefing, Roque maintained that vaccines could not be a substitute for following health protocols, while the Philippines has yet to contain its COVID-19 outbreak and achieve population protection.
"That is something I have to say to everyone. Siguro po nakakairita, but it’s the truth. Habang wala po tayong containment, mask, hugas at iwas pa rin. And maski batuhin na po ako ng tunay na bato, sasabihin ko pa rin ‘yan," he added.
(Perhaps it's irritating, but it is the truth. While we don't have containment yet, continue waring masks, washing your hands frequently, and avoiding gatherings. And even if someone throws a real rock at me, I will still say that.)
The Philippines has taken delivery of at least 14.2 million COVID-19 shots, of which some 8.4 million have been administered.
With the second highest tally of COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia, the Philippines aims to vaccinate up to 70 million of its 110 million people this year.
— With a report from Vivienne Gulla