It’s Your Fault: Spokesman Harry Roque blames ‘stubborn’ Filipinos for rise in COVID-19 cases

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque <i>Photo Screengrab from April 16 speech </i>
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque Photo Screengrab from April 16 speech

Are all presidential spokespersons cut from the same cloth? Looks just about like it. 

Newly re-appointed presidential spokesman Harry Roque today said in a Malacañang Palace briefing that stubborn Filipinos who refuse to follow the government’s quarantine rules are directly responsible for the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the country.

(No reason to blame your boss, who did not downplay the virus, right, Harry?).

Read: It’s Not His Fault: Panelo denies Duterte downplayed COVID-19 threat

To be fair, the Department of Interior and Local Government did ask Filipinos yesterday to be “vigilant” after they reported that at least 100,000 people have been arrested for violating enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) rules nationwide.

But that’s not the route or tone Roque took. Instead, he decided to lash out and issue an apparent scolding.

“Filipinos are stubborn. And because of that, we’re again number one in ASEAN [nations], [this time] for the number of COVID-19 [case]. It’s embarrassing!” Roque began.

“We Filipinos should be ashamed of ourselves for not showing any discipline,” he added in Filipino.

The spokesman said neighboring countries Singapore and Malaysia, which are both implementing quarantines, are handling the pandemic better because people are following their government’s guidelines.

(Not really. Several Singaporeans have been caught out and about in public)

“Only in the Philippines does it happen that heavy traffic happens in SLEX [South Luzon Expressway] and in Divisoria [public market] despite ECQ. We should be ashamed of ourselves! We Filipinos should be ashamed because of [our] lack of discipline!”

(So what you’re saying is we should be ashamed, right?)

He then urged people to be “homeliners” and asked moms (yes, moms) to strictly enforce the quarantine on their households. Then in a more somber tone, Roque said that the government is taking steps against curbing the virus spread by conducting mass testing, though he did not specify a timeline. The spokesman admitted that mass testing should have started much earlier.

The government had earlier announced that mass testing was supposed to start on Monday, but no details have been disclosed about it since.

“It’s true that compared to other countries, we’re a bit lagging on that [mass testing], but it is now underway. The target is 900,000 PCR testing [and] 2.2 million rapid testings.”

Read: ‘Failure of Leadership’: Senators urge Duque to resign amid rising COVID-19 cases

Earlier today, a group of senators called for the immediate resignation of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, who they said was responsible for the rise of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the country. The lawmakers said that Duque’s “failure of leadership” led to the government’s less-than-ideal response in curbing the pandemic.

(We guess, that’s kind of embarrassing, too. Right, Harry?)

Meanwhile, there are now 5,660 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country as of this afternoon, with 362 deaths and 465 recoveries.




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