Robredo: Curbing pandemic best for mental health, not white sand

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 25 2020 12:33 PM

Locals take pictures from a footbridge overlooking the construction of the Manila Bay beach, where artificial sand or crushed dolomite were dumped as part of the government's efforts to rehabilitate and beautify the polluted coastline, in Manila, Sept. 10, 2020. Eloisa Lopez, Reuters

MANILA - Stopping the spread of the coronavirus would be the best thing that government can do for Filipinos, not the dumping of crushed dolomite in Manila Bay, Vice President Leni Robredo said Friday. 

Robredo said more Filipinos could lose their jobs if the pandemic persists, which will take a toll on their mental health as they fret over how to feed their families. 

"Pinakamalaking tulong sa mental health na ma-suppress agad natin iyong virus kasi ito ang nakakadagdag sa nakakabagabag sa ating lahat—iyong pag-alala kung ano ang ating kinabukasan, lalo na para sa mga taong nawalan ng trabaho, lalo na sa mga taong hindi alam kung saan kukuhanin ang ipapakain sa pamilya,” Robredo said in an interview on radio show Basta Batas. 

(The biggest help to mental health is for us to quickly suppress the virus because it adds to our worries about our future, especially for those who lost their job, who do not know where they will get the means to feed their family.)

"Siguro kung talagang mental health ang target natin, ginamit sana natin sa bagay na may direct connection sa mag-a-appease ng worries na nararamdam natin ngayon," she added. 

(Perhaps, if our target is really mental health, we should have used the funds for things that have a direct connection in appeasing our worries.)

Hundreds of people flocked and failed to observe physical distancing last weekend at the white sand beach that Malacañang said would improve the mental state of the public. 

Duterte on Monday said there was nothing wrong with the government dumping crushed dolomite on Manila Bay to create the artificial beach.

"People now really enjoy the reclaimed area with the white sand, maski na papaano," Duterte said during his weekly address to the nation. 

"Wala naman talaga tayong magawa. You do it, may masabi sila. You do not do it, may masabi si Leni. What do you want us to do?" he added.

Robredo said the administration could have realigned the funds into the pandemic response. 

"Sana sa lahat ng programa: Iyong puwede namang ipagpaliban, ipagpaliban muna. Gamitin na muna sa mas urgent na paraan," said the Vice President.

(I hope that with all programs, whatever could be postponed should be postponed and use the money for more urgent measures.) 

"Sabi kayo nang sabi na wala tayong pera, maraming nagugutom ngayon, maraming nangangailangan ng tulong, iyong transmission hindi natin makontrol ta’s makikita iyong ganito. Parang number one, insensitive sa kahirapan. Number two, ipinapakitang parang walang sense of urgency sa pag-asikaso ng epidemic," she added. 

(You keep saying that we don't have money, many are going hungry and need help, we can't control the transmission, then we are going to see this beach. Number one, that seems to be insensitive to poverty. Number two, that shows there is no sense of urgency in responding to the pandemic.)