Panelo rebuts Robredo’s criticisms vs. COVID-19 response

Published June 28, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Genalyn Kabiling 

If she has a better idea on how to improve the government’s coronavirus response, Vice President Leni Robredo may send her suggestions to concerned officials through text message or letter.

The latest advice to Robredo came from Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo after she made the media rounds criticizing the government’s alleged shortcomings in efforts to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo (OPS / MANILA BULLETIN)
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo

Panelo said Robredo has “access” to many government officials like him, promising to respond once they receive her proposals on the COVID-related efforts.

“Ang payo natin kay VP Leni, kung mayroon ka mang mga mungkahi, una ang gawin mo sulatan mo. Ikaw naman may access ka naman sa aming lahat eh. You know our telephone numbers for one. You can text us immediately, we respond naman agad o kaya sulatan mo (Our advice to VP Leni is if she has any proposals, she should first write to us. You have access to all of us. You know our telephone numbers for one. You can text us immediately and we will respond instantly or you may write to us),” Panelo said during his “Counterpoint” program last Friday.

Panelo has frowned on Robredo’s recent decision to go to the press and find fault with the government’s pandemic response. He claimed that Robredo’s latest criticisms against the government were baseless.

“Kasi kung ang dating mo pupunta ka agad sa media, ang dating bumabanat ka. Kini-criticize mo buti sana kung mayroon naman reasonable basis, gaya ng pinakita na natin sa inyo hindi naman (Because immediately go to the media, it shows you are criticizing. It is good if there is reasonable basis but as I showed you, it’s not),” he told Robredo.

According to Panelo, the Vice President’s recent action was similar to that of former COVID-19 task force adviser Dr. Anthony Leachon who took to social media to complain about how the government is dealing with health crisis.

A day after Leachon was removed from the post, the Palace bared that President Duterte has actually expressed dismay with his public criticisms of the health department.

“Para ka tuloy si Dr. Leachon na supposed to be kasama sa gobyerno. Sa halip na ayusin niya internally yung mga reklamo niya ay nagpunta sa social média o di sya nabanatan tuloy siya. natanggal siya sa pagka-consultant (You are like Dr. Leachon who is supposed to be part of the government. Instead addressing his complaints internally, he went to social media. He was hit back and eventually removed as consultant),” Panelo said, comparing the actions of Robredo and Leachon.

Robredo earlier alleged the country was playing catch-up in the pandemic response after the government failed to act urgently at the onset of the coronavirus outbreak. She said the country had been complacent and now experiences the “gaps” in the efforts to address the health emergency.

Panelo, however, defended the government’s efforts in managing the public health emergency, saying quarantine measures have helped saved many lives.

He highlighted that the country has a lower fatality rate compared to other nations with the roughly the same population. He said the quarantine measures implemented by the government have helped contain the disease outbreak.

He also dispelled Robredo’s allegations that the government did not act promptly on the cancellation of flight from China, where the virus outbreak was first reported.

The government actually imposed a travel ban from China’s Hubei province back in January after the country confirmed its first case of the deadly virus, the former spokesman of the President said. The travel restrictions were recommended by Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.

On Robredo’s comments that the government was not doing enough testing, Panelo said the country’s testing capacity has reached more than 50,000 per day following the establishment of 66 laboratories.

He said some researchers have estimated that from 100,000 to three million lives have been saved due to the government’s “calibrated response” to the pandemic.

READ MORE: Robredo to gov’t: Don’t be ‘onion-skinned’, be open to criticism on COVID-19 response