MANILA — The Philippines is in a "good place" in its coronavirus fight compared to more developed countries and it is "unfair" for critics to say that the government had failed to address the health crisis, an official said Thursday.
The country would have had 1.3 million cases of COVID-19 if the inter-agency task force on the coronavirus response did not roll out quarantine measures in March, said the body's co-chairperson Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles.
"The fact that that had not yet happened, or hadn't happened, shows that the IATF acted and the President acted with dispatch. Mabilis ang action natin (We acted fast)," he told ANC.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said Wednesday that the task force had "failed" given that COVID-19 cases in the country had surpassed the 70,000-mark and "the only solution we see today is the continuous and repeated lockdowns."
"That's an unfair assessment of the work that the IATF has done," Nograles said.
The lockdown allowed the Philippines to lower its COVID-19 fatality rate and boost its health care capacity, including procuring more hospital beds, undertaking more tests, and deploying safety gear for frontliners, he said.
In the US and other developed countries in Latin America, Europe and Africa, "community transmission has skyrocketed, deaths are so high, the number of cases are so high, their health capacities are overwhelmed," said Nograles.
"Compared to these countries we're in a good place. Of course, there will be other countries who have done better, and we benchmark with those countries, and we try our best to match them," the Palace official said.
Local lockdown levels are based on a "scientific, mathematic model" that takes into account the epidemiological curve, health capacity, and economic, social and security factors, he said.
"Hindi ito haka-haka or gut feel lamang," he said.
(This is not mere speculation or gut feel.)
Nograles said he expects President Rodrigo Duterte to talk about the health crisis in his penultimate State of the Nation Address on Monday.
"Hindi po malayo na iyan ang babanggitin ng Pangulo because that is in the minds of people right now. That is what people have come to expect," he said. "I'm pretty sure malaking bahagi sa sasabihin niya would be about this crisis and this pandemic we're facing."
(It's not unlikely that the President would mention that because that is in the minds of people right now... I'm pretty sure a big part of what he will say would be about this crisis and this pandemic we're facing.)