Palace: Wrong to claim Duterte gov't COVID-19 response is lacking

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 27 2020 03:09 PM | Updated as of Aug 27 2020 06:07 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte delivers a message after holding a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Matina Enclaves in Davao City on August 24, 2020. Robinson Niñal Jr., Presidential Photo​

Robredo camp tells Duterte admin to 'shape up'

MANILA (UPDATE) - Malacañang disagreed Thursday with Vice President Leni Robredo over supposed lapses in the government's pandemic response strategy after the opposition leader suggested ways to rescue the economy.

The government is following a COVID-19 response plan, President Rodrigo Duterte's spokesman Harry Roque said, arguing that the Philippines would have seen more deaths because of the virus if there was no strategy.
 
"Hindi po totoo na hindi sapat ang ating response. Siguro, madali po magpula dahil hindi tayo nasa gitna ng pandemya at hindi tayo ang inaasahang gumalaw. So, napakadali talaga na ika'y magpula," Roque said in a Palace press briefing.

(It is not true that our response is lacking. Maybe it's easy to criticize because they are not the ones expected to act in the middle of the pandemic. So, it's easy for them to criticize.)

"Ilang buwan na po tayo sa COVID-19, pinatutupad lang po natin ang plano ng Pangulo," he added.

(We're only implementing the President's plan for months since the COVID-19 pandemic started.)

Robredo, in a public address on Monday, outlined several measures that she said the government needs to implement to resuscitate the economy.

She also emphasized the importance of providing clarity and transparency on the government's pandemic response.

"Paanong magkakaroon ng kumpiyansa kung ni hindi natin masiguro kung saan napupunta ang mga pondo? Paanong magkakakumpiyansa, kung sa tuwing magpe-presscon ang liderato, wala tayong linaw na mahinuha?" Robredo said.

(How can there be confidence when we are unsure of where funds are going? How can there be confidence when every time the leadership holds a press conference, clarity is in short supply?)

"Malinaw na handang sumagwan ang lahat; ang kulang na lang, ‘yung magtututok sa atin sa dapat nating kapuntahan. ‘Yung magtitimon."

(Clearly, the people are willing to man the oars; what we need is someone to point us towards the proper direction. Someone to steer the ship of state.)

Roque claimed that Duterte does not find fault in Robredo's activities even if, according to the President hours after she proposed measures to lift the economy, she would "just destroy government."

"Pero ang Presidente, hindi naman pinupulaan si VP Leni. Kinilala niya ang mga tulong na ginawa ni VP Leni. Ang pakiusap lang po ni Presidente, magkaisa sa panahon ng pandemya. Isantabi muna ang pulitika," Roque said.

(The President does not criticize VP Leni. He recognized the help of VP Leni. His only wish is for us to be united during this pandemic. Set aside politics.)


'SHAPE UP'

Responding to Roque's remarks, Robredo's camp urged the Duterte administration to shape up as it appealed to the government to listen to suggestions.

"Umayos naman kayo, please. Ang daming umaasa sa inyo. Ang dami ring handang tumulong," Robredo's spokesperson, Barry Gutierrez, said in a statement.

(Shape up, please. Many people are depending on you. Many are also willing to help.)

Gutierrez said it would be difficult to help the government if it refuses to acknowledge and accept there are problems, citing the country's over 200,000 COVID-19 cases so far, which is the highest in the region, the -16.5 percent GDP during the second quarter, and the 7.5 million who went jobless, among others.

"Ito ba ang itsura ng 'sapat na response'?" Gutierrez asked, as he asserted that the Vice President is not politicking when she presented her recommendations.

(Does an adequate response look like this?)

"Ang hirap talagang tulungan ang ayaw man lang tanggapin na may problema," he lamented.

(It's difficult to help someone who doesn't want to accept that there is a problem.)

"Makinig din sana kahit minsan. Hindi na ito tungkol sa politika. Hindi na ito nakakatawa. Pakiusap lang."

(I hope they will listen sometimes. This is not about politics. This is not funny, please.)