Leni: Duterte should allay public fears


    GET your act together.

    Vice President Leni Robredo had this to say to the government yesterday as she scored President Duterte for his late decision to temporarily ban visitors from mainland China and its special administrative regions Hong Kong and Macau amid the novel coronavirus scare.

    “Tingin natin kung naaga-agahan sana, mas nabawasan iyong panic ng mga tao, kasi siguro, siguro totoo din na iyong panic ng mga tao paminsan parang sobra sa kung ano iyong katotohanan, pero obligasyon kasi naming mga nasa pamahalaan na, parang, i-assuage iyong mga fears ng mga tao (We think that if this was done earlier, the people’s panic would have been lessened. It seems that sometimes, the people’s panic is too much but it’s our obligation in the government to somehow assuage the people’s fears),” Robredo said in a radio interview.

    Sen. Christopher Go announced the President’s decision to impose a temporary travel ban to and from China, Hong Kong and Macau after a meeting last Saturday night where the proposal to expand the temporary travel ban currently imposed on Hubei province to the rest of mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau was discussed.

    Robredo urged President Duterte to come out and address the public to allay fears and avoid panic.

    “Pinakamabuti sana kung si Pangulo iyong lumabas in public para mag-make ng statements. Kasi alam natin na very popular si Pangulo, na kapag siya iyong mag-assure sa mga kababayan natin na lahat ginagawa ng pamahalaan, tingin ko hindi ganoon kagrabe iyong takot, e (It would be best if the President will come out and address the public to make statements. We know that the President is very popular and that if he will be the one to assure our citizens that the government is doing everything, I think the public will not be afraid too much),” she said.

    The Vice President said the government should have been decisive from the start when news of the possible spread of the virus first broke out.

    “Mas maging swift lang sana, mas maging aggressive iyong response ng gobyerno, kasi natatakot iyong tao, e. Kailangan dapat pumutok pa lang iyong balita, napakita na kung ano iyong ginagawa natin (The response should have been swift, more aggressive because the people are scared. When the news first broke out, we should have shown what we were doing),” Robredo said.

    She said calls for temporary suspension of the entry of Chinese tourists “is not meant to discriminate against anyone but to help contain the virus’ spread.”

    Communications Secretary Martin Andanar earlier asked the public not to engage in “discriminatory behavior” since many opposed the continued entry of Chinese citizens amid the virus scare, with some blaming the government for its alleged subservience to Beijing.
    Robredo lamented that there are not even enough surgical masks for the public to avail of amid the virus scare.

    “The mere fact na nagkakaubusan, the mere fact na out of stock, nakakadagdag pa, e, nakakadagdag pa sa fears. Dapat sana ina-address, ano ba iyong ginagawa? Anong ginagawa ng pamahalaan para ma-address iyong kawalan ng supply? (The mere fact that there is not enough stock, that it’s out of stock, it contributes to the fears. It should have been addressed; what is being done to address the lack of supply?),” she said.

    The Vice President took a swipe at presidential spokesman Salvador Panalo for saying the government could not do anything but urge manufacturers to produce more face masks for the public instead of assuring the public.

    She said Panelo should have told the public that there will be a new supply of masks in the market as soon as possible.

    “Ang may diperensya talaga iyong mga messenger, e. Kasi dapat sana isa lang iyong boses ng pamahalaan (The messenger is really the problem. The government should only have one voice),” Robredo said.


    Deputy Speaker Luis Raymond called on all local government units (LGUs) to create their respective task forces on the 2019 novel coronavirus that would advise their constituents on what precautionary measures to take and coordinate with the Department of Health (DOH) on what protocols to initiate to help check the spread of the disease in their localities.

    Villafuerte said governors, along with city and municipal mayors, should give number one priority to the creation of 2019-nCoS task forces in their respective provinces, cities and municipalities, following last week’s declaration by the World Health Organization (WHO) of a global emergency over the virus and the DOH’s confirmation of the first case of this disease in the Philippines.

    “It is imperative for our LGU chief executives to put up 2019-nCoV task forces in their respective provinces, cities or municipalities, now that the WHO has declared a global emergency and the DOH has confirmed the first novel coronavirus entry in our country,” Villafuerte said.

    Villafuerte issued this statement over the weekend as he welcomed the advisory by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) for all LGUs to create their respective task forces to deal with this new disease.

    “It behooves our local executives to heed this government advisory to help contain the spread of this new virus that has to date affected nearly 10,000 people across the globe and killed over 200 of them in China,” Villafuerte said.

    Villafuerte said LGU task forces should take their cue from whatever risk communication strategies; public health enhancement and surveillance measures; and early detection, isolation and case management procedures that the DOH and other concerned government agencies would adopt for the country to best deal with the 2019-nCoV.

    Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano has called on the DOH to coordinate closely with local government executives and congressional representatives of the various legislative districts to “provide timely and easy-to-understand information at the grassroots level on the novel coronavirus (nCoV) that has now spread around the world.”

    Cayetano said local officials, including the representatives of the various districts in Congress, can help eliminate the confusion on the nCoV and provide the public with correct information on how to avoid contracting the illness and prevent its spread.“We have social media to help inform us, but the information that we are sometimes getting are confusing because they are unverified and do not come from official channels,” he said.