Duterte cites health workers, frontliners; thanks LGUs, private sector for COVID response

Published July 26, 2021, 6:30 PM

by Raymund Antonio

President Duterte thanked health workers and other frontliners, the private sector, and the local government units (LGU) who helped in the country’s fight against COVID-19 during his sixth and final State of the Nation Address (SONA) at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City on Monday, July 26.

President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his sixth and final State of the Nation Address on July 26, 2021. (RTVM Screenshot)

“Allow me this opportunity to extend my personal and nation’s gratitude to all those who selflessly gave their all in the fight against COVID-19—our health workers and other frontliners who risk their own safety,” he said.

Duterte recognized efforts of COVID-19 frontliners who “keep our essential health services and the food supply chain, boosting the economic activity and ensure peace and order in our communities.”

The President, however, failed to mention that many of the so-called heroes of the pandemic have not received the allowances and hazard pay promised to them when they joined the frontlines of the country’s fight against COVID-19.

Recently, a nurses group trooped to the Department of Health (DOH) demanding to release the budget for their hazard pay. The alleged underspending of the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan 2) and the failure to pass a Bayanihan 3 law subsequently cut the allowances of health workers.

Duterte also aired his “deepest appreciation for the generosity of the private sector who came to the government’s aid in fighting COVID-19.”

“I’m profoundly thankful for your sustained assistance to fellow Filipinos amidst the deleterious effect of the pandemic to our respective industries. Let me assure you the government is committed to assist the private sector to regain the commercial vibrance of the country prior to the pandemic,” he said.

Several private companies have helped the government in its pandemic response such as the Ayala group, SM, Razon, and San Miguel Corp., among others.

The President then thanked the local executives because “this pandemic pushed you to step up and deliver responsive assistance.”

“I’m glad to have seen you undertake new and heightened responsibility working doubly hard to protect your constituents,” he added.

He mentioned the “the international development partners who extended a helping hand amidst the global health emergency.”

The Philippines, the Chief Executive said, “remembers your kindness and goodwill with sincere gratitude.”

Despite the lack of vaccine supply, experts have lauded the role of the LGUs in vaccinating millions of Filipinos and keeping them in check amid strict restrictions imposed because of the pandemic.

The Philippines started its vaccination rollout in March with donations from China and global vaccine-sharing facility COVAX, which donated millions of COVID-19 vaccines to the country. Recently, the United States, the country that the Chief Executive shunned for China earlier in his term, donated 3.2 million doses of the single-shot Janssen vaccine.