MANILA - Vice President Leni Robredo said Monday she has stopped watching President Rodrigo Duterte's weekly reports to the public as she feels these were not focused on the pandemic.
Robredo said she "religiously" watched Duterte's late-night press conferences which began March last year but that she has stopped in the "past several months."
"'Pag pinapakinggan ko and binabasa ko ang transcript (ng press conferences) may sense ako na hindi niya alam lahat ng detalye, ang tingin ko lang kulang sa pagtutok sa detalye," she told ANC's Headstart.
(When I listen and read the transcript, I get a sense that he doesn't know all of the details. I think he lacks effort to focus on details.)
"The last 2 press conferences were really quite frustrating for us...Nasa middle tayo ng surge na kailangan all hands on deck tapos ang greater part of the press conference is pinupuna ang mga senador, yung COA (Commission on Audit)."
(We're in the middle of the surge where all hands on deck are needed but the greater part of the press conference is criticizing senators and COA.)
The Vice President said she would allot funds to COVID-19 response if she was tapped to help.
"Dahil 'di ako privy sa nangyayari sa taas, di ko alam saan talaga ang problema kasi ang nakikita natin ngayon, merong pera, merong pangangailangan pero bakit 'di nagagastos ang pera sa pangangailangan," she said.
(Because I'm not privy to what happens up there, I don't know where the problem is because as we can see now, there's money, we have a lot of needs, but why is the money not being spent on our needs?)
Robredo said the administration should have focused the 2022 budget allocation to COVID response.
"We have seen yung mga COA reports. Ang una kong gagawin, titingnan ko how much money do we have now. Ano ba ang available na pera, itatabi natin yun sa pinakakailangan. Halimbawa ang isa sa pinakakailangan ngayon ang pagasikaso sa healthcare workers natin," she said when asked what she would do if she was asked to lead the pandemic response.
(We have seen COA reports, first thing I would do is look at how much money we have now. What funds are available and we will allot it to what's most needed. For example, taking care of our health workers.)
The Vice President cited as an example the slashing of Department of Health's proposed budget to P19.6 billion from P73.9 billion, which would result in the lack of funds for health workers' benefits.
"'Yng mga dapat nagiimplement ng COVID response programs, yun pa ang binawasan tapos yung di pa ganun ka-urgent at his time, ang dami naghihirap, ang daming nawalan ng trabaho. Bakit hindi 'yun ang asikasuhin natin?"
Robredo said she heard during a House committee hearing that Health Secretary Francisco Duque said the budget department was "banking on the Bayanihan 3 to fund medical frontliners' allowances.
The increase in anti-insurgency funds, meanwhile, would also have been alright if the country was in an "ordinary time," she added.
Other agencies should allot their excess to COVID-19 response budget, according to the Vice President.
"Hindi ito ordinary times, sa'kin lang bakit wala akong nakikitang sense na ganoon...Dapat pinapakiusapan ang mga department, alin muna sa budget niyo ang puwede natin maconvert ngayon?" she said.
(These are not ordinary times, I don't any sense of that from them. They should ask departments what part of their budget can be converted to COVID response.)
"Kung nagagawa namin na yung kakarampot namin na budget na nai-stretch namin and nako-convert namin na maging COVID budget imposible naman na yung iba hindi yan kayang gawin."
(If we can stretch our small budget and convert them to COVID funds, it's impossible others can't do the same.)