MANILA — Vice President Leni Robredo on Wednesday urged government workers to keep their focus on the COVID-19 pandemic instead of squabbles, following President Rodrigo Duterte's tirades against a mayor.
Duterte on Monday asked Filipinos if they wanted to be led by an unnamed mayor, who he said had "bikini" photos and seemed to be trained as a "call boy."
"Sa panahong ito, wala tayong mapapala sa parinigan at bangayan," Robredo said in a statement.
(At this time, we won't gain anything from tirades and fights.)
Some hospitals are getting full, more are getting sick with COVID-19, and many are out of work again while Metro Manila and several other areas are on lockdown, the Vice President pointed out.
"Hindi ‘yan ang susi para maging mas efficient ang pagbibigay ng ayuda, bakuna, at iba pang tulong sa ating mga kababayan," she said.
(That is not the key for more efficient distribution of aid, vaccines, and other aid to our compatriots.)
"Kung itutuon natin ang lakas natin sa pagtutulungan kaysa sa bangayan, mas marami tayong magagawa... All-in dapat tayo sa pagtugon sa krisis na ito. All eyes on the surge. Saka na kayo mag-ungkatan ng past," added Robredo.
(If we focus our strength on unity rather than fighting, we can do more. We should be all-in in addressing this crisis. All eyes on the surge. Let us dig up our past some other time.)
WHAT DUTERTE SAID
While Duterte did not name anyone in his rants, many believe he was referring to Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, who had humble beginnings at a slum in Tondo before being an actor and bagging some sexy roles.
Moreno, 46, has tied in second place with 2 other potential candidates for president in a pre-election survey that Pulse Asia released in July. President Rodrigo Duterte's daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, topped the poll.
Palace spokesman Harry Roque on Tuesday said he cannot confirm whether or not the President was referring to Moreno.
Asked what gave Duterte ascendancy to call out a mayor for alleged indecency when he himself had displayed lewd behavior, Roque said, “Ewan ko po, pero wala pong mga ganoong larawan ang Presidente. Let’s leave it at that.”
(I do not know, but the President has no pictures like that.)
“The President never posed for pictures like those, and let’s leave it at that,” he said in a press briefing.
Duterte — who has made sexist remarks and rape jokes — said in 2018 that as a teenager, he "tried to touch what was inside the panties" of a maid, who was sleeping.
The President also appointed former sexy government Mocha Uson to his government.
Did Duterte show double standard in this?
“Si Mocha Uson, na-appoint po ‘yan. Pero hindi ko naman po alam kung ano talagang nakaraan ni Mocha Uson, sa totoo lang po,” Roque told reporters.
(Mocha Uson was appointed, but I do not know her past, in truth.)
“The President gave her a second chance, and I think she took advantage of the second chance,” added the Palace spokesman.
Duterte on Monday also stripped an unnamed city government of the power to distribute cash aid to help residents cope with the lockdown of Metro Manila because of its alleged disorderly vaccination drive.
Manila and several other areas last week suffered chaos after thousands flocked to vaccination sites, some of them wrongly believing that they would be barred from going out or getting cash aid without anti-coronavirus jabs.
The Palace has denied that the inoculation mess could be blamed on Duterte, who on July 28 said barangay officials should bar unvaccinated people from leaving their homes.
Moreno on Tuesday said the distribution of cash aid in the Philippine capital would begin on Aug. 11, adding that the city government has already withdrawn the funds.
PALACE RESPONDS TO ROBREDO
Roque said that while the President has acknowledged Robredo's pandemic initiatives, she "has made it a weekly media habit to nitpick the Executive’s COVID-19 response."
"It has become noticeable that her criticisms have become incessant and non-stop as the country approaches an election season. This is simply politicking," he claimed in a statement later Wednesday
He said government employed "a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach from the cash aid to vaccination to the re-opening of the economy."
"We welcome constructive criticisms, as evidenced by the appeals of the LGUs on community quarantine classifications, but not remarks that devalue the efforts of the national government," he said.