By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Malacañang appealed to the public to recommend good measures instead of criticizing President Duterte’s response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, saying the President’s initial remarks were already in the past and the government is already addressing the problem.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo made the statement following the criticisms against President Duterte’s claim that he warned the Filipinos about the gravity of COVID-19 when he downplayed it at the beginning and said the virus will die a natural death.
In his Wednesday virtual presser, Panelo said Duterte did not intend to downplay COVID-19 but said he made those remarks to avoid sowing panic and anxiety among the public.
“Sana at this time of crisis, yun pong mga pagpuna sa pamahalaan, eh ‘wag na muna tayo maging masyadong mainit noon. Kumbaga, nakaraan na yun at ginagawan na ng paraan (I hope in this time of crisis, let us avoid making criticisms about what happened in the past. I mean, it already happened and we’re addressing it already),” he said.
“Noong sinabi niya po yun ay dadalawa pa lang ang namamatay sa atin kaya ayaw niya po na lumikha ng masyadong anxiety o pagkatakot ng ating mga kababayan kaya sinabi niya yun (When he made those remarks, we only had two deaths. He didn’t want to cause anxiety or fear among our citizens that’s why he said that),” he added.
Panelo likewise said that Duterte was only following the guidance of the World Health Organization (WHO), thus the government’s initial response to the crisis.
“Hindi naman po pinag-walang bahala. Ang katunayan nung mga araw ng Pebrero, ang World Health Organization ay nagbibigay ng advisory sa atin na ‘wag tayong mangamba dahil hindi pa pandemic. (He did not disregard the issue. In fact in February, the WHO gave us an advisory not to worry because it was not a pandemic yet),” he said.
“Sa madaling sabi, depende po kasi sa sitwasyon. Kaya si Presidente noon, sumusunod lamang siya sa takbo ng patakaran ng World Health Organization at sa mga nakikita niya sa kanyang kapaligiran. (In other words, it depends on the situation. The President was just following the guidance of the WHO and what he is seeing),” he added.
“Subalit, immediately after that, nung makita niya na dumarating na ang unos, gumawa na po siya ng lahat ng kaparaanan. Nakita po natin bigla siyang nagkaroon ng lockdown at immediately after that ay nagkaroon na po ng pagmi-meeting ng IATF (But immediately after that, when he saw the disaster coming, he immediately ordered a lockdown and convened the IATF),” he continued.
Panelo, meanwhile, urged the public to recommend good measures to the government instead of criticizing its efforts against the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Yun pong mga kritisismo, kung ano man ang iki-criticize natin, gawin na po nating mungkahi para lahat po tayo ay makakatulong sa isa’t isa. (Let’s make a suggestion instead if we feel we have to make criticisms so we can help each other out),” he said.
“Siguro mas maganda magbigay po tayo ng mungkahi na lang. Yung nakita natin na hindi maganda na hindi nagawa, ipasa po kaagad natin (Perhaps it’s better if we make recommendations about the things that are not good or not being done. Tell us immediately),” he added.
Panelo assured the public that all recommendations or suggestions are being sent to President Duterte or the Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases and these concerns are being addressed immediately.