Palace vows: No ‘disastrous’ Yolanda-like response to pandemic

Published April 12, 2021, 5:51 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

The government is not inclined to emulate the previous administration’s super typhoon Yolanda-like disaster response in addressing the coronavirus pandemic. 

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the disaster response implemented by the Liberal Party during the onslaught of Yolanda in 2013 was “disastrous,” adding there was no need to employ such failed scheme during the pandemic.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque

“Huwag na po nating ibalik iyong naging kalansay ng Liberal Party na Yolanda (Let’s not bring back the skeletons of the Liberal Party during the Yolanda onslaught),” Roque said during a televised press briefing Monday, April 12.

“Kapag sinabi mong Yolanda, alam ng taumbayan, disaster po iyan. Hindi po natin ibabalik iyong naging government response to Yolanda na disastrous  (When you say Yolanda, the people know it was a disaster. We will not bring back the disastrous government response to Yolanda),” he added.

Dr. Aileen Espina, who belongs to the alliance of medical professionals, reportedly described that the coronavirus situation was as grave as the onslaught of Super Yolanda amid concerns about the imminent collapse of the healthcare system. Amid the spike in coronavirus cases, she proposed that the pandemic response must be similar to responding to a strong typhoon to save more lives.

The Healthcare Professionals Alliance Against COVID-19 (HPAAC) earlier expressed dismay that the two-week enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in National Capital Region Plus (NCR+) has been wasted, citing the lack of clear government long-term plans to curb the coronavirus case spike.

Among the proposals of the group are establishment of a healthcare command for Metro Manila, passage of a law on data sharing through integrated infrastructure, adoption of APAT Dapat and stronger messaging on ventilation measures, and allocation of social safety nets and support to people at risk.

Roque however brushed aside criticisms that the two-week strict lockdown was supposedly a failure, citing that hospital capacity has been increased during the period. 

The increased health care capacity, he said, was one of the major factors that prompted the government to relax the tough movement curbs and place NCR Plus under the less restrictive modified enhanced community quarantine from April 12 to April 30, 2021.

Roque earlier said around 3,156 beds for coronavirus patients have been added to health care facilities in NCR Plus. He said hospitals, both private and public, have committed to add more dedicated beds for COVID-19 patients.

“Ang naging basehan nga natin iyong improved healthcare capacity natin dahil nadagdagan nga po iyong ating mga facilities (Our basis is the improved healthcare capacity because our facilities have increased),” he said.

He added that impact of the ECQ on the coronavirus cases will be known in the coming days.

Roque meantime expressed doubts on the authority of the alliance to speak on behalf of the country’s medical community.

He is also puzzled why the head of the group was criticizing the alleged lack of plans when the person is part of the team that gives advice the government task force in charge of handling the pandemic.

“I would caution the public, dati na pong naging issue ito, ang dapat po nating pakinggan kapag talagang nagsasalita ang mga doktor ay iyong Philippine College of Physicians in the form of a valid resolution at saka iyong Philippine Medical Association,” he said.

The government is struggling to slow down the coronavirus spread after cases have alarmingly surged in recent days. More than 11,000 cases have been reported as of April 12, bringing the total number of cases to 876,225. The country’s death toll has reached 15,149.