It was a simpler time. In March 2016, just a few months before the end of his term, Philippine President Benigno “PNoy” Aquino III gave an interview to Michael Genovese, a political science professor at the Loyola Marymount University in the United States.
Though the interview has gone largely unremarked upon since then, Redditor u/ParesanNiPDutz posted a clip of the interview, with the caption, “Papano kung si PNoy ang presidente during COVID pandemic? Watch how he handled the MERS-COV virus.”(“What would have happened if PNoy had been president during the COVID pandemic?”)
Asked about the country’s healthcare systems in the face of a pandemic, Aquino answered with a very specific example. “We were told twelve hours after our citizen landed in Metro Manila that he had tested positive for the [MERS coronavirus],” Aquino said, adding that this had happened during Holy Week. “We follow the WHO guidelines, but we added our own twist,” Aquino said.
Aquino spoke about how the government had marsaled different agencies to quickly find all 418 passengers on the same flight as the man who had tested positive for MERS-Cov, and how they had learned to refine contact tracing methods to respond to the threat of a pandemic.
“The job of a Philippine president when he reads the papers in the morning and gets all the intel reports from so many sources is [to ask] ‘what is happening anywhere in the world, and are any Filipinos involved?’. Pandemics are just another facet or potential facet,” Aquino continued.
In response, Redditors referenced current Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s comical responses to crises. “Why do these kung pwede mo naman murahin ang veerus?” read the top comment on the post, which had received 1.6K upvotes.