‘Pray for salvation’: Duterte mulls strict lockdown to quell Delta threat

Published July 27, 2021, 9:54 AM

by Genalyn Kabiling

Another round of lockdown and prayers might be needed as the government moves to contain the surge of cases of highly transmissible Delta coronavirus variant in the country.

President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his sixth and final State of the Nation Address before a joint session of Congress on July 27, 2021. (Malacañang)

President Duterte is not completely closing his door on imposing another lockdown as a precaution against the virus spread in the country.

In his sixth and final State of the Nation Address (SONA) Monday, July 26, the President admitted he has to be “strict” with movement curbs even he recognized the possible “irreversible” damage of such lockdown on the domestic economy.

“So this is as good as any other time to say it, if sees that it is really dangerous, you have to go back to lockdown,” Duterte said during his speech that lasted almost three hours.

“If there are many people in other parts of the world killing as many, then Delta, if ever it will spread — we have it here now — I hope it will not go any further. But if something wrong happens, I’ll have to be strict and I have now my word that there will be a… Just like what happened in the early days. Eh kung ganoon ang COVID D, saan tayo pupunta? (If that’s how COVID D spreads, where will we go?),” he added.

Apart from mulling over tightening movement controls, the President encouraged people to “pray for salvation” amid the threat posed by the Delta variant.

Of the 1.5 million cases of coronavirus in the country, the health department has so far reported over a 100 cases of coronavirus Delta variant amid struggles to contain the local transmission of the contagious strain.

“It requires a new vaccine, we do not have it yet, I do not know what… Maybe we will just have to pray for salvation. Sabihin natin, “Diyos, we have done everything. But you know, this time we are really put hard on these things that happened,'” he said.

The President, in the same speech, admitted that when he ran for office in 2016, he never imagined that he would only be judged by how he kept his campaign promise to fight drugs, crime and corruption, but “how well” he led the nation during the pandemic.

Duterte used the speech to defend his government’s pandemic response as well as bared plans for recovery. He said it was “beyond dispute” that the country’s economic and governance fundamentals were “robust” when COVID-19 hit the nation.

When the pandemic struck, Duterte said his government prioritized saving lives, citing fund allocation for health care resources and social amelioration program.

“We moved quickly to safeguard the well-being of every Filipino through preventive and responsive health and safety measures, and broad and inclusive social amelioration program,” he said.

“Indeed, our national health system and resilience were tested to the hilt. Countless lessons were learned and continuous improvements put in place,” he said.

From a limited testing capacity at the early stages, he said the government’s coronavirus testing efforts were eventually ramped up to detect and isolate cases of coronavirus. The country now has more than 260 accredited laboratories nationwide capable of conducting at least 50,000 tests daily. All regions now can conduct their own COVID-19 tests, he added.

He said the country’s vaccine supplies have so far reached more than 30 million doses. Another 36 million doses are expected to arrive this month and August. He encouraged anew people to get vaccinated as soon as possible, saying vaccination remained the “best solution” to fighting the coronavirus.