MANILA - In his first public Mass after recovering from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), Archdiocese of Manila apostolic administrator Bishop Broderick Pabillo said Sunday that the soaring virus cases in the country is not just because of people violating quarantine measures, but due to the decisions and policies of authorities as well.
In a Mass celebrated at the Radio Veritas chapel, Pabillo said it is alarming that the Philippines now has the most number of COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia.
"There are so many people who suffer, many are sick, many have no jobs, many are hungry. This is not just because people are pasaway. There is something wrong in the governance. May mali sa pagpapalakad ng pamahalaan kaya tayo ganito," the bishop said.
"Hindi ba tayo nababahala? Magwawalang kibo lang ba tayo?"
Pabillo said that while government still lacks a comprehensive plan on how to address both the health and economic woes caused by the COVID-19, authorities seemed to be more interested in pushing for the revival of death penalty in the country.
"Nakakalungkot pa, walang pinapakitang kapani-paniwalang paraan ang ating gobyerno para sugpuin ang health and economic issues na ito. Sa halip, inaarangkada sa Kongreso at sa Senado ang pagpasa ng death penalty," he said.
The bishop said the absence of clear direction in the government's response to the crisis means it would take a while before the country's economy could bounce back.
Meanwhile, Pabillo thanked those who prayed for his speedy recovery. The prelate also dedicated the Mass for all COVID-19 patients, medical frontliners, and others affected by the pandemic.
Pabillo revealed last July 23 that he tested positive for the new coronavirus. Following a second swab test last week, he was declared COVID-19-free.
Based on the latest data from the Department of Health, the Philippines has nearly 130,000 recorded COVID-19 cases, ahead of Indonesia's over 127,000 confirmed infections.
Other Southeast Asian countries, such as Malaysia and Thailand, managed to control the outbreak, each tallying less than 10,000 confirmed cases as of writing.
Metro Manila and its four neighboring provinces were placed under a two-week stricter lockdown starting Aug. 4 as cases have risen following the earlier easing of quarantine measures.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque has refused to accept that the Philippines has the most number of coronavirus cases in the region, insisting that this is due to the country's ramped up testing capacity.
Roque had also said that the Philippines is on the "right track" in its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Habang mababa po ang mga namamatay tama po ang ginagawa natin. Tingin ko po, papunta tayo sa tamang direksyon na tayo ay nag MECQ," Roque said in an Aug. 3 press brieifing.
(As long as there are a few people dying, we are doing the right thing. I think we are going on the right track with the MECQ.)