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Palace denies Duterte politicking amid COVID-19

By Deighton Acuin and Archie Villaflores

PHOTO: Philippine Daily Inquirer

Malacañang on Friday denied that President Rodrigo Duterte was politicking amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“No, that is not the case because the primary thrust of the government is [still responding to the] COVID-19 pandemic,” Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said in a briefing at the sidelines of the COVID-19 vaccination in Ilocos Norte.

“That is why all members of the cabinet were given the mandate to go and support the vaccination program of the government,” he added.

Roque insisted the government was focused on fighting the pandemic even if Duterte called his former aide and now Senator Christopher “Bong” Go “President” last March 5.

On March 11, Duterte said Go wanted him to publicly announce that the lawmaker wanted to become his successor.

The President also revealed that Go wanted to be President on the same day that PDP-Laban member and House Deputy Speaker Eric Martinez confirmed that the President’s fellow PDP-Laban party-mates were pushing for the President to seek the Vice Presidency in 2022.

Despite pronouncements, the Palace official dismissed it as a joke.

Contact Tracing

Roque, meanwhile, said in response to the surge of coronavirus infections, the country’s Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) agreed to the full implementation of StaySafe.ph in order to improve the efforts on contact tracing.

“StaySafe.ph app will be implemented and the end-user will be the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) since they are the ones in charge of contact tracing,” Roque said.

“There is no problem with the app. As of yesterday, kinks have all been ironed out. The full implementation of the StaySafe.ph app will happen within 10 days,” he added.

Earlier, Roque said contact tracing is the government’s weakest point in pandemic response because of the non-implementation of StaySafe.ph tracing application.


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