Duterte’s COVID-19 strategies ‘confusing, a failure’

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    THE government should coordinate its response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Cavite Gov. Jonvic Remulla said yesterday as he expressed dismay over several of the executive’s confusing strategic measures to control the spread of the virus.

    Remulla, in his Facebook page, compared the Duterte administration’s approaches to Sweden, Thailand and Vietnam.

    “Ayoko na sana ikumpara, ngunit dito sa Pilipinas ay nakakalito at sadyang nakakadismaya ang implementasyon ng mga patakaran laban sa COVID-19 (I don’t want to compare as much as possible but here in the Philippines, the implementation of measures in the fight against COVID-19 is confusing and really frustrating),” Remulla said.

    He noted that Sweden, where one of his children is studying, has a “very efficient” and “unified coherent strategy” in protecting its citizens from the disease.

    He likewise pointed to how the World Health Organization (WHO) has recognized the efforts of Thailand and Vietnam in fighting the global health crisis.

    “These countries are also decades ahead in upgrading their health system in anticipation for a pandemic like this. Lastly, there is a system of trust with the pandemic management led by a team of experts,” he added.

    Remulla expressed disappointment with the government’s responses, among them the decision to require the installation of plastic barriers between a motorcycle driver and his passenger even if the two are couples and live in the same house.

    While noting that the directive was later lifted, Remulla said the government should not have made riders spend on something that was not properly thought of.

    Remulla also cited the recent move to reduce physical distancing in public transport vehicles to .75 meter despite the high number of COVID-19 cases reported daily. He noted that President Duterte had later decided to bring back the one-meter distance after health experts questioned the decision of the Department of Transportation.

    Remulla also cited the President’s announcement that the country is already preparing for the arrival of a COVID-19 vaccine, which an official of the Department of Health (DOH) said would still not be safe because such would still have to go through a long process of testing and trials.

    He also questioned why Caviteños are allowed to go to Metro Manila to go to work without a travel pass but Metro Manila residents are not allowed to go to Tagaytay City, a component city of Cavite, without a travel pass.

    Tourists are not allowed to go to Tagaytay City for a vacation without a travel pass if they are coming from general community quarantine areas, like Metro Manila. Cavite is under modified community quarantine.

    He also cited the crushed dolomite rocks dumped on the shoreline of Manila Bay as part of the bay’s rehabilitation program. He said the Department of Environment of Natural Resources declared dolomite was safe, but which the DOH counterd, even saying that these were cancerous.

    “Ano ba talaga Kuya? Ang labo ninyo talaga. (What’s the real score brother? You’re really confusing),” Remulla said, adding: “What the country needs is a single voice with a clear message. The vaccine is at best one year away before it is made available. A clear message is always a day away.”

    “I appeal to the national government for a comprehensive information campaign that is clear, concise and coordinated. It should be based on the science public health with guided inputs from Infectious disease specialists. Directives should not come from military orders without proper consultation with the stakeholders. Perhaps we should identify, trace, consult and listen to the real experts,” the governor said.

    Meanwhile, even former speaker Pantaleon Alvarez has found the Duterte administration’s COVID-19 response strategies a “failure.”

    Alvarez unleased a mouthful against the Duterte administration, saying voters have to be wiser in the next national elections and elect an intelligent leader because having audacity is not enough to lead a country.

    “Let’s admit it. The handling of the COVID pandemic in the entire Philippines is a failure,” he said over his local radio program last August 28 which was recently posted on Facebook.

    “Una, kining kinahanglan mupili ta presidente nga kahibalo muhandle imong covid. Kanang presidente nga utok (as he points to his head), utok, di lang paisog-isog (Choose a leader who can handle this COVID situation. One who actually has brains and not just all bravado),” he said.

    His scathing comments came as a surprise as it was the first time that he openly criticized the administration. He is still considered to be among the close allies of the President despite having lost the speaker’s post in the second half of the 17th Congress to then Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo.

    Duterte only has less than two years left in office and it remains to be seen if his popularity will be enough to ensure the victory of the administration’s presidential candidate in 2022.

    Alvarez pointed out that the Philippines’ COVID cases remains to be high is an indication that “there’s a problem (and) something is wrong in handling the problem.”

    “It is not yet clear when this COVID will end and there is no medicine yet. This will cross over to the next administration, that’s why we need to choose a President who is knowledgeable,” Alvarez said, pointing out that the election season will start setting in as early as October next year once candidates file their certificates of candidacy.

    Alvarez said another problem that the next President will have to face is the slumping economy since many businesses have closed down, causing unemployment including overseas workers who are coming home.

    He said next President also needs to have the “balls” to address a potential conflict in the Pacific between the United States and China.

    “There are about 200 American battleships in the Pacific. We will be caught in this conflict because we are near China. The President must be capable of handling the situation. He must have balls. The President must have a clear stance,” he said. – With Wendell Vigilia