MANILA – Malacañang on Thursday expressed strong objection to Vice President Maria Leonor Robredo’s assessment that President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration lacks plans to address the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
“I beg to disagree, seriously disagree with the Vice President,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a virtual press conference. “Ilang buwan na po tayo sa Covid-19, pinatutupad lang po natin iyong plano ng Pangulo (It has been months since we are battling Covid-19 and the President’s plans to fight it are already being implemented).”
Roque’s statement was in response to Robredo’s claim on Monday that the country seems to have “no leader” amid the Covid-19 crisis.
Robredo, in a video message uploaded on her official Facebook account on Monday, said it feels that Filipinos “have nothing to expect from our leaders” or it is as if “there are no leaders at all” as the country continues to struggle in defeating Covid-19.
In a taped public address aired on Tuesday, Duterte reacted to Robredo’s statement, telling the Vice President to stop issuing statements that are intended to sow hatred against the government.
Roque said it was easy for Robredo to criticize the government because she is not the one who is expected to lead the fight against Covid-19.
“Siguro madali pong magpula dahil hindi tayo ang nasa gitna ng pandemya at hindi tayo ang inaasahang gumalaw. So napakadali talaga na ikaw ay magpula (Perhaps, it’s easy to criticize because you’re not at the forefront of Covid-19 fight and you’re not expected to do anything. So it’s very easy to criticize),” he said.
Contrary to Robredo’s claim, the government is focused on helping individuals who have contracted the new coronavirus, Roque said.
Roque added that the Duterte administration is determined to ensure the recovery of Covid-19 patients with “severe” symptoms.
“So hindi po totoo na hindi sapat ang ating response (So it is not true that our response is not enough),” he said. “Ang pinaghahandaan po natin ‘yung mga magkakasakit ng severe at critical (We are focusing on giving more attention to [Covid-19] patients with severe and critical infections).”
Roque also responded to Robredo’s call on the government to “spend more, spend efficiently, and spend quickly” once the proposed Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan 2) is enacted into law.
He said the government only has limited funds to respond to the Covid-19 crisis.
“Kung pupuwede po, bibigyan lahat ‘no pero wala nga po tayong sapat na pondo para diyan (if we can help everyone, we will. But we have not enough funds for that),” Roque said.
The PHP165-billion stimulus plan under proposed Bayanihan 2 consists of PHP140 billion in regular appropriations and PHP25 billion in standby funds.
Roque reiterated that Robredo should stop politicking amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Ang pakiusap lang ni Presidente, magkaisa po sa panahon ng pandemya. Isantabi muna ang pulitika (The President’s appeal is to have everyone’s cooperation amid the pandemic. Let’s set aside politics for now),” he said. Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos / PNA – northboundasia.com