‘Photo ops, mere presence can’t substitute for coherent leadership’, Hontiveros tells Duterte

Published April 16, 2021, 2:46 PM

by Hannah Torregoza 

Opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros on Friday, April 16, urged the Duterte administration to step up in its response to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic instead of insisting that the government is doing everything to contain the crisis.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros (Senate of the Philippines / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Hontiveros said President Duterte’s defense of the government’s response on the COVID-19 pandemic is not helping boost the people’s confidence as the increasing number of cases and deaths “speak for themselves.”

“Their photo ops, mere presence can’t substitute for that clear, coherent, empathetic and compassionate leadership. When you weigh his insistence that they were not remiss against the really sad and frightening numbers that keep climbing up, then we already know the truth, right? The evidence, the numbers of cases of the deaths speak for themselves,” Hontiveros said in an interview on The Source, CNN Philippines.

The senator said the government must step up in its standardized contact tracing, targeted and periodic testing, timely distribution of cash gifts, protecting health workers and their families, upgrading health facilities and pushing for the completion of the national vaccination program.

“It’s really exasperating that we have to keep repeating these steps, which we’ve known from last year. But until now they have refused to implement and shape up. That’s why we see a dismal health outcome so far, and not to speak even of the economic outcomes,” she lamented.

Hontiveros also criticized the President for pointing out that other countries are also facing the COVID-19 turmoil.

“If the President wants to play the comparison game, then it bolsters proof that we are indeed falling behind. Other neighboring countries, not just the more economically developed ones, even resource-strapped, are actually doing better, even with less because last year, they made it a point to tackle the pandemic, seriously and consistently and without panic and drama, without a male-fisted approaches,” she reiterated.

“Many other countries have put their shoulder to the wheel, and have done what needs to be done that’s why periodically, they were able to flatten the curve in their respective countries,” she pointed out.

The lawmaker also reiterated the President should stop playing “hide and seek” with the public and stop with his “disappearing acts.”

“More and more people have been speaking up about the President’s health being a matter of public concern, so everybody is hoping that there will be no more of those disappearing acts and at any one time, they need to put out reassurance that the Chief Executive, the Commander in Chief, is fit and able to dispense with his duties, especially in the middle of this pandemic and recession,” Hontiveros said.

In his speech on Thursday, April 15, Duterte insisted that the government’s response to the pandemic was neither slow nor lacking, disputing critics accusations’ it has been ineffective.

The President said that while other countries tried to downplay the effects of COVID-19, the Philippine government immediately constituted the task force.

“We were not wanting…I’d like to just disabuse the mind of—na nagkulang tayo (we did very little),” Duterte said.

“We were not remiss because right after the WHO (World Health Organization) advisory, the following day, within 48 hours, we already had the task force,” he said.