Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque has become the object of ridicule once again when he downplayed a study showing that the Philippine unemployment rate has risen to 45.5% because of the COVID-19 lockdowns.
Roque said today that the Social Weather Stations survey result was not so bad, given that the Duterte government has imposed a lockdown on the country since March.
Wait, whut? You mean we’re still #blessed?
“I am happy that 100% of us didn’t lose our jobs because we have been on lockdown for so long. I’m still surprised at our resilience because only 45% of us have lost their jobs,” he said in English and Filipino in a virtual presser.
“It could have been worse because what happened to us was a total lockdown,” Roque said, emphasizing that, you know, we should look at the glass half-full instead of half-empty.
The coronavirus pandemic — and the ensuing lockdowns– has resulted in the Philippines’ first recession since 1981, the waning years of Ferdinand Marcos’ regime. Thousands of businesses have closed, while at least 27.3 million have lost their jobs as of July, according to the Social Weather Stations.
With such a dire picture, Roque’s optimism is so admirable — not.
Meanwhile, the presidential spox also dismissed online rumors that President Rodrigo Duterte traveled to Singapore to obtain treatment, saying that the chief executive is staying in his home in Davao City.
“I have already said in a statement yesterday that this is fake news, [this rumor] that the president has left the Philippines. He is still in Davao City, he has not left the Philippines and his health is fine,” Roque said.
He also assured the public that Duterte has not been infected by Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, who tested positive for COVID-19 once again.
“The president is in perpetual isolation. No one can come close to him. I think I already told you that whenever we meet with him there is a velvet rope [separating him from the Cabinet members]. That keeps him at least six feet from everyone else. No one can come close to the president,” Roque said.
Duterte regularly undergoes polymerase chain reaction tests, considered the “gold standard” in COVID-19 testing.
“He is already complaining because his nose kept getting poked [for swab tests],” Roque said.
The president has said publicly on multiple occasions that he suffers from a string of illnesses, and rumors often swirl that he visits local and foreign hospitals to receive medical care. However, he does not appreciate it when people discuss his health. In 2019, he even threatened to slap a newspaper columnist for reporting that he went to the Fuda Cancer Hospital in Guangzhou to be treated for an illness.
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