Senators: Pandemic not a ‘small thing’

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    Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan (Photo from msn.com)

    OPPOSITION senators yesterday slammed President Duterte for downplaying the impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic as a “small thing” during his regular Monday night public address.

    Sen. Francis Pangiinan said COVID-19 is no “small thing” as it has severely impacted the lives of the Filipino people and the economy.

    “Kung maliit na bagay ‘yung sampung libo nating mga kababayan na namatay, kalahating milyon ang nagkasakit, milyon milyon ang nawalan ng trabaho at trilyong piso ang nabura sa ekonomiya, ano kaya ang malaking bagay?

    (If is it just a small thing that more than 10,000 Filipinos have died, more than half a million others have been infected, millions more lost their jobs, and our economy lost trillions of pesos, then what does he consider as a big thing?” Pangilinan asked.

    Sen. Risa Hontiveros said Duterte was wrong to belittle the effects of the pandemic on the country, especially now that cases are fast reaching the August 2020 peak level.

    “Wala sa tamang proportion ang sinabi ni Presidente, dahil sa kabila ng sinabi niya na maliit lamang, napakalaking mga bagay ang hinaharap ng mga Pilipino sa COVID-19. At kung gusto niya talaga palakasin ang loob ng Pilipino, napakaraming kailangan pang gawin, at ayusin at iwasto, isang taon na mula sa simula ng pandemya (The President is out of proportion when he said that COVID is a small thing because Filipinos are facing big problems due to its impact. If the President wants to somehow uplift our spirits, the government needs to do more than what it is doing now. The government must fix and correct its mistakes now that we are one year into this pandemic),” she said.

    President Duterte on Monday night told the public not to despair and instead be confident that the country would eventually surpass the health crisis.

    “I will just say to my countrymen that do not despair. Kaya natin ito COVID na ito. Maliit na bagay ito sa buhay natin. Marami tayong dinaanan mas ano, mas grabe, mas mahirap, mas magluluha kayo (I will just say to my countrymen that do not despair. We can overcome COVID. This is small thing in our life. We have surpassed more difficult situations that you would tear up),” the President said.

    “This is a fight not only against the COVID but against, you know, despair and hopelessness,” he also said as he assured the poor that they would be included in the vaccine priority list.

    Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the President did not belittle the effects of the pandemic or the experience of the Filipino people when he mentioned that it was a “small thing” compared to other challenges that the country has faced.

    “Ang sinasabi ng Presidente, temporary lang po ‘yan. Hindi po ‘yan forever. Lilipas din po ‘yan at pagdating po ng bakuna, magkakaroon nga po tayo ng solution sa ating problema, magkakaroon tayo ng new normal (What the President was saying is that, this is just temporary. This will not last forever. This will pass and once the vaccines arrive, we will have a solution to our problem, we will have a new normal,” he said.

    He said Duterte is not belittling the hardships faced by everyone but merely meant that the nation can overcome the present pandemic and eventually, the country will heal as one.

    Roque reiterated that compared to bigger countries, the Philippines recorded a lesser number of cases.

    He said the fatality rate also remained low at 2.05 percent compared to other countries, while the health care utilization rate remains at the low risk level. He said despite the spike in cases, Metro Manila’s health care utilization rate has not reached the moderate level. – With Jocelyn Montemayor