“Relax ka lang (Just relax).”
This was the message of Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo to Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez who recently lashed out at the government for allegedly neglecting Mindanao in the pandemic response.
Rodriguez recently slammed the government for the alleged lack of urgency in responding to the coronavirus situation in Mindanao, particularly criticizing the sluggish vaccine rollout that could prevent infections and deaths. As cases surged in some parts of Mindanao, the lawmaker also vowed to hold vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. accountable for the coronavirus deaths in his city due to the lack of vaccines.
Panelo however asked Rodriguez to keep his cool and not to blame Galvez for the COVID-19 situation in his city, saying the rise in COVID cases was probably due to the poor compliance with health regulations.
“Ito naman si Rufus nanggagalaiti. Napanood natin sa tv. Congressman Rufus sinisisi si Secretary Charlie dahil daw may mga namatay doon. Ano ba naman Cong Rufus, bakit mo naman sinisisi si Charlie? (Rufus is fuming. I saw him on tv. Cong. Rufus is blaming Secretary Charlie for the deaths. Why blame Charlie?),” he said during his Counterpoint program Saturday, June 19.
“Ikaw Cong Rufus, relax ka lang. Siguro hindi naging maingat ‘yung mga namatay diyan. Huwag mo sisihin sila General Galvez. ito naman pobre talaga naman ginagawa niya ang lahat (Congressman Rufus, just relax. Maybe those who did were not careful. Do not blame General Galvez. This poor fellow is doing everything),” he added.
Nonetheless, Panelo assured the public that the government continued to distribute vaccines to places especially with high number of COVID cases. He also proposed the allocation of buffer vaccine stocks in case of surge of infections in other areas in the country.
Following the outburst of Rodriguez, Galvez recently said the task force would not neglect the regions, especially Mindanao, in the deployment of the coronavirus jabs. He said more vaccines would be sent to Mindanao as soon as the rest of the deliveries arrive this month.
He likewise offered his condolences to the families who lost their loved ones to the deadly disease. “Mindanao is close to my heart, as I was stationed there for many years as a soldier,” said Galvez, a retired military general.
As of June 18, Cagayan de Oro City has recorded 9,917 cases of coronavirus, including 927 active cases and 145 deaths. The Department of Health data also showed at least 441 hospital beds, or 78.3 percent of the total 563 beds, in the city are occupied.