By Raymund Antonio
If there is one person who can allay public fear about China’s novel coronavirus, Vice President Leni Robredo thinks it will be President Rodrigo Duterte.
Speaking on her Sunday radio show, “BISErbisyong Leni,” Robredo said the Chief Executive should make a public statement to assure Filipinos that the government is on top of the situation amid the 2019-nCov threat.
“Alam natin na very popular si Pangulo. Kapag siya mag-assure sa mga kababayan natin na lahat ginagawa ng pamahaalan, tingin ko hindi ganoon kagrabe iyong takot,” Robredo said.
(We know the President is very popular. If he will assure our countrymen that the government is doing everything, I think public fear will not be that serious.)
“Ang hinihingi ng tao iyong actual steps na ginagawa saka iyong mensahe ng ginagawa (The people are asking for the actual steps as well as the message on what it is doing),” she added.
The vice president pressed the need for Duterte to address the health issue as different information may cause confusion and unnecessary panic to the people.
Ever since the emergence of the 2019-nCov in Wuhan, China became public last month, misinformation on the disease spreads, especially on social media platforms.
Robredo called out Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo for his latest remark that the government will not be able to distribute face masks due to the lack of supply.
“Ang may diperensya talaga iyong mga messenger, eh. Kasi dapat sana isa lang iyong boses ng pamahaalan (There is a problem with the messenger because the government should have one voice),” Robredo noted.
“Dapat hindi sinasabi iyon ng opisyal, ‘di ba? Dapat sinasabi niya ‘ginagawa na namin ang lahat para siguraduhin na as soon as possible magkakaroon ng mga masks na available sa market,’” she said of Panelo.
(An official should not be saying that, right? He should have said, we are doing everything to make sure as soon as possible there will available masks in the market.)
The opposition leader welcomed the expansion of the temporary travel ban on tourists from mainland China and its administrative regions, Macau and Hong Kong, but she said the ban should have been imposed sooner.
“Nakita naman natin ilang mga bansa na iyong nag-react na swiftly tungkol dito. Iyong hinahanap ng mga kababayan natin kung papaano tayo magre-react agad-agad para siguruhin na iyong kaligtasan at kalusugan ng mga Pilipino ay nababantayan,” she said.
(We have seen how many countries reacted swiftly about it. What our countrymen are looking for is how we will react right away to ensure the safety and health of Filipinos are guarded.)
According to Robredo, the temporary ban expansion will ease the worries of Filipinos and contain the spread of the new coronavirus.
“Iyong temporary suspension, hindi ito pag-discriminate against anyone, pero iyong sa atin, para ma-contain iyong virus spread (The temporary suspension is meant not to discriminate anyone, but for us, is to contain the virus spread),” she said.
Duterte earlier order only covered the entry of visitors from China’s Hubei province, where Wuhan—epicenter of the novel coronavirus—is located.