MANILA — The Philippine government has mismanaged its response to the COVID-19 outbreak, with the situation only getting worse more than a year into the pandemic, Senator Manny Pacquiao said Monday.
"Sa tingin ko, hindi naman naresolba ang pandemya. Lalo pang lumala. Pataas pa nang pataas ang bilang ng mga cases ng may infected, COVID. Talagang mismanaged. I'm sorry to say this but 'yun 'yung nararamdaman ko," Pacquiao, once an ally of the administration, told TeleRadyo.
(I think the pandemic has not been resolved. It's worsening. The number of COVID cases continues to rise. It's really mismanaged. I'm sorry to say this but that's how I feel.)
The senator, who has previously signaled his intention to run for president next year, made the remark after being asked about presidential spokesperson Harry Roque's outburst against COVID-19 frontliners.
Pacquiao previously said President Rodrigo Duterte should not get mad at senators if they investigate issues related to the government's pandemic response.
"'Di po dapat magalit ang ating Pangulo dahil 'di namin siya kinakalaban, tungkulin namin to investigate in aid of legislation," he said early this month.
(The President should not be mad because he's not our enemy, it's our duty to investigate in aid of legislation.)
"Dapat po ang ating Pangulo 'di po siya masyadong defensive sa kanyang mga tao na gumagawa ng kalokohan, lalo na itong corruption dahil sa corruption tayo ay naghihirap."
(The President should not be too defensive of his erring officials, especially those engaged in corruption because it's what makes us poor.)
He had flagged possible corruption in the government's spending for the COVID-19 crisis, naming the Department of Health in particular, and sought for a probe into the agency's purchase of personal protective equipment and test kits at the height of the country’s COVID-19 fight.
In Monday's interview, Pacquiao said the government should focus on inoculating Filipinos to reduce COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths in the face of highly contagious variants.
"Dapat mag-focus tayo sa massive vaccination dahil 'yan po ang nakikita ko sa ibang bansa [kung] bakit sila nakapagbalik to normal na ang pamumuhay nila. Dahil 'yung focus nila is to vaccinate the people," he said.
(We should focus on massive vaccination because that is what I see in other countries as the reason they are able to return to normal. Because their focus is to vaccinate the people.)
As of Sept. 12, nearly 16.8 million people in the Philippines have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, while close to 22 million others are partially vaccinated, latest data collated by the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group showed.
Since the pandemic began, more than 35,000 people in the country have died from the illness, out of the more than 2.2 million confirmed infections. As of Sunday, 181,951 cases are active.
The country logged its first COVID-19 case on Jan. 30 last year in a Chinese woman who arrived from Wuhan City, China where the disease is believed to have first emerged.