By Raymund Antonio
Vice President and opposition leader Leni Robredo on Thursday scored government’s “lack of sense of urgency” in handling the COVID-19 pandemic.
Robredo noted the administration was “dilly-dallying” with the cancellation of flights from China and was “not very strict on its implementation” after the country recorded the first COVID-19 cases last January.
She also said the authorities appeared to be slow in the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE) sets for medical frontliners.
“My sense is that we did not act urgently kaya nararamdaman natin ngayon iyong mga gaps kasi naging complacent tayo (that’s why we feel now the gaps because we were complacent) at the very start,” she said in an interview over ANC’s Headstart.
The vice president added these gaps in the COVID-19 response resulted in the Philippines still “catching up” with other countries despite imposing one of the longest lockdowns in the world.
”And hindi ito maganda (this is not good)in the sense that China was supposedly an example already for us; we should have learned the lessons of Wuhan already,” she pointed out.
The procurement of PPEs is among the alleged irregularities being investigated by the Ombudsman on Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and other officials, as its inadequate supply has been blamed for the deaths of many health workers.
Duque explained they were not late in buying PPEs, but other countries just acted sooner.
The vice president begged to differ.
“Iyong late at saka early kasi relative iyon, eh. Kapag naunahan tayo ng iba, late pa rin tayo (Being late and early are relative. If others were ahead of us, we were late),” she said.
At the same time, Robredo said she found lacking President Duterte’s weekly reports to Congress in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’ve been religiously following the Monday reports (and) presscon. The information being given is not enough. Every Monday should be the day to report to the country what has been done, and what are the expenditures,” she said.
The special powers granted to Duterte under the Bayanihan Law lapsed on Wednesday, June 24, since it was only valid for three months.
“Before we even talk of more special powers, the most needed is to render a complete report. To render a complete report of what happened in the last few months when the special powers was (were) there,” she said.
Robredo said she would want a report discussing where the administration is in its targets and how it spent the funds for the COVID-19 response.