Duterte: ‘Never did I imagine my presidency’ will be judged by COVID-19 response

Published July 26, 2021, 10:35 PM

by Raymund Antonio

President Duterte lamented that his six-year term will be judged solely on his administration’s COVID-19 response and not on the campaign promises he has fulfilled.

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

This is despite his being one of the most popular presidents in the country’s political history.

Duterte spoke for three hours before members of Congress and other guests at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City on Monday, July 26, for his sixth and final State of the Nation Address (SONA).

“I have to admit back when I decided to answer your call and run for higher office, never did I imagine (that) my presidency will only be judged by how I made good in my campaign promises in fighting illegal drugs, criminality, corruption, but how I led our nation during the global pandemic,” he said.

Duterte administration’s pandemic response left much to be desired as the economy has largely remained shut since the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak in March 2020.

The Philippines has the longest lockdown in the world while still recording a total of 1.5 million COVID-19 cases and 27,247 deaths.

READ: Duterte warns of ‘irreversible’ economic damage if more lockdowns are declared

The Chief Executive argued that even amid the pandemic, the government was able to sustain “our momentum towards the developmental goals.”

But naturally, the government has to prioritize saving lives through the Bayanihan 1 and 2, he noted.

“We move quickly to safeguard the well-being of every Filipino to preventive responsive health safety measures and broad inclusive social amelioration program or SAP, thanks to the support of Congress,” he added.

The SAP aimed to provide P5,000 to P8,000 per family for two months during the height of the pandemic outbreak last year. Many Filipinos, however, complained that they never got their share.

And while the country has limited testing capacity during the earliest stages of the pandemic, “we ramped up our testing capacity” to ensure early detection and isolation of confirmed COVID-19 cases.

He cited that the country now has more than 260 accredited laboratories nationwide, which are capable of administering 50,000 tests daily, as well as 9,000 temporary treatment and monitoring facilities or a total bed capacity of more than 140,000.

“Kahit anong krisis ay kayang malampasan kung tunay na may malasakit at bayanihan (No matter what crisis, we can get through it if there is real concern and community spirit),” the President said.

READ: Duterte tells Filipinos: Do not lose hope, we will win against COVID-19

On the legislation front, the Chief Executive boasted of the 13 measures they passed to establish “new and improved capacity of existing hospitals around the country to provide quality care and services” to Filipinos.

Duterte mentioned that the country now has received over 30 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, and expects to receive 36 million more this month and in August.