BY JOCELYN MONTEMAYOR and PETER TABINGO
PRESIDENT Duterte on Monday night told Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo and other opposition leaders and critics to stop adding to the country’s problems with their “reckless statements” about government’s alleged failure to address the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
In his weekly public address, Duterte said some people will never be satisfied with what government is doing. He said his government has “done its best” and is “doing enough” to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
Right after Duterte’s address, Robredo said in a Facebook post that more needs to be done than just waiting for a COVID-19 vaccine, and having hospitals to treat COVID patients and funeral parlors for those who succumbed to the disease. She expressed disappointment over the alleged limited scope of the President’s assessment of the COVID-19 impact and the number of challenges that still needs to be addressed as the country wrestles with the spread of the disease.
Robredo said addressing the COVID-19 pandemic goes way beyond just the availability of hospital facilities for the sick and disposal of dead bodies.
“I can’t help but mention a few takeaways. This problem is not just about providing hospital beds and funeral homes. There is a lot more that can be done that just wait for the vaccine,” she said.
The most pressing concern, she said, is suppressing the pandemic “by means of medical and non-medical interventions.”
Robredo chided Duterte for his suggestion to simply spray Metro Manila with insecticide like DDT (dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane) from an airplane.
Aside from stopping the spread of infection, she also urged intervention into humanitarian emergencies caused by the pandemic including poverty, hunger, unemployment, and mental distress.
Once the coronavirus cases are under control, she said the government must rebuild the economy “in an inclusive, resilient, and sustainable way.”
Duterte, in his late night address, said people led by Robredo have been making “reckless statements,” like the government has not exerted enough efforts to address the pandemic.
“What I am trying to impress also upon the people is that we are doing our job. Period… the Yellows (opposition), regardless of what you say, if you do not do it you are bad. If you do it, you are still bad… what do you want? You want me to spray you with DDT? They are trying to delude people about — they are trying to picture that there is a failure of government. We have done our best,” he said in mixed English and Filipino.
Duterte reiterated that until a vaccine for COVID-19 has been found, there is nothing people can do except to observe health protocols, like wearing face masks and shields.
“Alam mo Leni, kung gusto mo, if you really want to do away with the COVID, spray-han natin itong Pilipinas o Manila ng pesticide galing sa eroplano para patay lahat….You cannot exterminate the COVID by itong ano lang ngayon (You know, Leni, if you really want to do away with the COVID, let us spray the Philippines or Manila with pesticide from an airplane so everyone is killed…. You cannot exterminate the COVID by just what we have now),” he said.
“It’s COVID-19 equals vaccine. Huwag na ninyong palakihin ang problema. Do not add something to the pandemic by making such reckless statements that we are not doing enough (It’s COVID-19 equals vaccine. Do not add to the problem. Do not add something pandemic by making such reckless statements that we are not doing enough),” he added.
The President urged the public not to just believe the claims of the opposition and other government detractors.
Duterte said the government is doing what it can to slow down the spread of the virus as it waits for a vaccine, which is possibly available by early next year. He said more isolation centers are being built, hospital facilities are being improved, and test kits and other equipment and medical supplies are being brought, among others.
He reassured everyone that his administration would do all it can to secure vaccines.