To fix COVID response, someone must take the lead, if not the President — VP

Published September 16, 2020, 8:07 AM

by Raymund Antonio

Vice President Leni Robredo said on Tuesday that if the government wants to fix its response to the coronavirus pandemic, it needs to address the lack of system by having one person who will take the lead.

Vice President Leni Robredo (FEDERICO CRUZ / MANILA BULLETIN)
Vice President Leni Robredo (FEDERICO CRUZ / MANILA BULLETIN)

“Dapat si presidente ‘yung tumitimon. Pero halimbawa ayaw niya yung role na ‘yun or busy siya with other things, at least sana may isa (The President should lead it but if he doesn’t want that role or he’s busy with other things, there should be at least one who will do it),” she said in an interview Tuesday night on “Quarantined with Howie Severino.”

“Kung hindi siya, at least mag-assign siya ng somebody na in his stead na puwedeng one of the Cabinet secretaries pero with the same authority (If not him, at least he can assign somebody in his stead, it could be one of the Cabinet secretaries with the same authority),” she added.

The vice president has been vocal in criticizing the administration for having no clear direction in ts COVID response, with some government agencies contradicting each other in handling the crisis.

Robredo laments that the government still has no cohesive plan and has not been proactive since the onset of the outbreak in March.

“In the midst of the pandemic, may isa sanang nasa taas na nagsasabi na ‘lahat ng gagawin ng lahat ng agencies (I hope someone is on top who says), whether it’s a team or what, ako ‘yung kumander (I’m the commander), all hands on deck tayo. Ang aasikasuhin natin ay lahat ng COVID-19 na related na programs (What we will focus on are COVID-19 related programs),’” she said.

Robredo also believes that Health Secretary Francisco Duque III should not be replaced while the country is battling the COVID-19 pandemic.

Several sectors have called for Duque’s resignation, including some senators who have criticized him over the alleged irregularities in the DOH’s coronavirus response and Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) fund scandal.

Robredo said she is not seeking Duque’s resignation because the problem is the system.

“Iyong problema natin (Our problem) is so much bigger than Secretary Duque. Para sa akin, iyong problema talaga ’yung national government na parang walang sistema (For me, the problem is really with the national government that has no system in place),” she said.

“Iyong failure ay ‘yung sistema. Hindi lang naman si Secretary Duque, so para sa akin whether tanggalin mo si Secretary Duque, kung ganito pa rin yun sistema, problema (The failure is the system. It is not only Secretary Duque. So for me, whether you remove Secretary Duque) the problems will persist,” she added.