Duterte spox tells Robredo: Just ask me about COVID-19 response

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 25 2020 02:22 PM

Duterte spox tells Robredo: Just ask me about COVID-19 response 1
Vice President Leni Robredo and Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque. ABS-CBN News

MANILA-- Vice President Leni Robredo should just ask Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque for information on the country's response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Palace mouthpiece said Thursday after the opposition leader said there was "not enough information" on how government funds were spent.

Robredo on Thursday said President Rodrigo Duterte's administration should release a detailed breakdown of how it spent hundreds of billions of pesos meant to contain the pandemic.

"I invite the good Vice President to just ask what she needs to know and we will respond. That's part of my duties as spokesperson," Roque said in a Palace press briefing.

The Vice President said government documents available online lacked details on how funds for the pandemic response were used.

She added that the Philippines failed to "act urgently" at the start of the coronavirus pandemic and was still "catching up" with the response of other countries despite imposing one of the longest lockdowns in the world.

"For the past several hindi lang (not just) days, but weeks, I've been looking for documents online on the report of how the Bayanihan Heal as One funds were spent -- Hindi kumpleto (it's incomplete)," the Vice President told ANC. 

Roque, however, defended the measures undertaken by the government to respond to the pandemic, saying more lives would have been lost if not for the lockdowns that started in March.

"Tingin ko po tama ang mga hakbang na ginawa natin although we strive to do better at tingnan po natin kung mayroon pang mga bagong stratehiya," Roque said.

(I think we took the right steps although we strive to do better and let's see if there are new strategies.)

"Buong mundo po (worldwide), we are far from beating COVID-19. I hope the Philippines can break this worldwide trend," he added.

As of June 24, the Philippines has confirmed 32,295 COVID-19 cases. The figure includes 1,204 deaths and 8,656 recoveries.

Worldwide, almost 9.3 million people have been infected with COVID-19, according to the Johns Hopkins University coronavirus dashboard. Of those, 4.6 million have recovered while 477,000 have died.