By Rjay Zuriaga Castor

PHOTO: Word Press

The Duterte administration is being blind and deaf to the plight of the people and the country’s sordid state amid the government’s weak response to the coronavirus pandemic, the camp of Vice President Leni Robredo said on Monday. 

“We are asking for them to listen. This is not politics. This is for the life and livelihood of our people. We want you to succeed for the good of everyone but how will that happen if you remain deaf and blind to our true state?” Spokesman Barry Gutierrez said in a statement following Malacañang’s rejection of Robredo’s call to improve the Philippines’ pandemic response.

Gutierrez justified that the assessment from the Australian Lowy Institute, which ranked the Philippines 79th out of 98 in terms of the effectivity of pandemic response and the Economic Intelligence Unit’s estimation “that the Philippines will be able to achieve vaccinations for 60% of Filipinos only by 2023, or two years from now” are “independent, objective assessments of our performance in managing the Covid-19 crisis.”

Such assessment according to him “should provide us (the government) with both means and motivation to identify gaps in our current policy and improve our overall response.”

“This administration insists on burying its head in the sand and crying 'politics' every time assessments like these come out. Secretary Roque's reaction is typical: walang problema, walang dapat ayusin, namumulitika lang lahat,” Gutierrez said in a statement.

“Hindi ito pulitika. Buhay at kabuhayan ito ng ating mga kababayan. Gusto naming magtagumpay kayo, para sa kabutihan nating lahat, pero paano mangyayari yan kung mananatili kayong bingi at bulag sa ating tunay na kalagayan? Pakiusap lang namin, makinig naman sila,” he added.

Gutierrez then argued that hundreds of thousands of Filipinos have been infected, with thousands more getting sick every day, despite the Philippines' implementing one of the longest lockdowns in the world.

“Millions have lost their jobs, and our economy has just experienced its worst shrinkage since World War II,” Gutierrez said.

The Philippine economy saw its worst full-year economic performance since the end of World War II at -9.5% in 2020 due to the impact of lockdowns and global uncertainties due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Kung sa kabila ng lahat ng ito, naniniwala pa rin ang administrasyon na walang problema, baka ‘yun mismo ang problema,” he added.

On Sunday, Robredo said in her radio program said that the government should focus on improving its pandemic response, stop the propaganda, and learn from countries that have responded well to COVID-19.

Roque, however, said the administration's pandemic response is not propaganda citing World Health Organization (WHO) figures which put the country 32nd in terms of COVID-19 cases, 45th in terms of active cases, and 72nd in terms of case fatality rate.

The Philippines has recorded 527,272 COVID-19 cases as of the writing, including 10,807 deaths.