The government’s roadmap for recovery will depend on the national budget and the availability of the coronavirus vaccine, according to President Duterte.
In his televised address Friday, the President admitted that he was unable to dwell on such roadmap until these two factors are ensured.
Duterte made the statement after he was widely criticized for the supposed missing detailed roadmap to ride out the pandemic during his fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA) last Monday.
“Sabihin niyo wala kaming roadmap. The roadmap ng recovery natin — I do not know din ‘yung headline niyang newspaper. Sabi ko nga hindi ako nagbabasa ng newspaper eh. The roadmap… If it’s about me, I do not read. “Duterte, where is your roadmap?” Hindi nga kami maka-roadmap because we were talking about a budget. Ito, ito ngayong gabing ito (You said we have no roadmap to recovery. I do not know but the headline of the newspaper — I said I don’t read newspapers if it’s about me — read ‘Duterte where is your roadmap?’ We cannot craft the roadmap because we are talking about the budget tonight),” Duterte said.
“I could not have uttered a single sentence about roadmap to recovery kasi ang una talaga diyan ang medicine (because first we also need the medicine),” he said.
The President has highlighted the progress in development of coronavirus vaccines, citing the efforts made by foreign drug companies. Duterte said he hopes the vaccine can be available by December so people can start returning to their normal lives. He intends to buy the vaccines and give free medicines to the poor, the middle income, soldiers and policemen.
On the proposed national budget, the President met with the economic team on the matter before his public address, according to his spokesman Harry Roque.
The proposed 2021 national budget was not submitted to Congress in time for the President’s SONA. The P4.3 trillion spending proposal is reportedly still being finalized by the budget department.
The President recently drew criticisms from several lawmakers and groups for allegedly failing to present a concrete plan to fight the pandemic and jumpstart the economy during his recent SONA.
Malacañang hit back at critics, saying they were probably deaf when the President called for the passage of the proposed Bayanihan 2 law and tackled programs such as loan assistance for affected industries.
In his SONA before the joint session of Congress, the President tackled several issues including possible state takeover of telecommunication firms over their supposed bad service, tirade against Senator Franklin Drilon, and his being a “casualty” of ABS-CBN network during the 2016 elections.
He said the country is in a better fiscal position to weather the crisis but he remained reluctant to further open up the economy due to possible spike in infections. He also pushed for the swift passage of several priority bills such as death penalty for drug-related offenses.