Vice President Leni Robredo’s recent call to improve the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic will destroy the government, President Rodrigo Duterte said in a public briefing today.
Robredo, who has a testy relationship with the president, appeared in a publicly broadcast speech yesterday where she criticized the government’s handling of the health crisis, saying in Filipino that there appears to be no leader “at the helm, no direction, no clear horizon as to when and how this pandemic will be addressed.”
She added that if the Duterte government continues to fail people, Filipinos have to find solutions themselves.
“[W]e will step up to the plate, we will help each other, carry one another,” she said.
Duterte did not take kindly to Robredo’s public criticism and said she was just out to topple his administration.
“This [issue] about Leni and her statement saying [that] if [the] government cannot do it, then the people will. Well, in this time of [the] pandemic, people are desperate…I hope you have something to show for it. Please do not add fuel to the fire. You will just destroy [the] government. Don’t destroy the government because it will destroy the people.” the chief executive said in English and Filipino.
“If the government collapses, we will all float. Even if I die tomorrow, it cannot solve the problem of the country,” Duterte added.
Robredo is not alone in calling out the government, however. Many Filipinos have complained about the Duterte administration’s poor handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to the Philippines having Southeast Asia’s highest number of COVID-19 cases now nearly at 195,000.
Filipinos have called for mass testing since the start of the lockdown. The government, which had promised mass testing but has yet to conduct it, had said that it is leaving the responsibility to the private sector. Many health workers have also died battling the virus since the start of the pandemic, and yet Duterte had insisted that they were “not doing anything.” On top of this, instead of addressing the issue of unemployment — which is at an all time high at 45.5% — Malacañang downplayed it by saying “it could have been worse.”
Meanwhile, Duterte distanced himself from a group calling for a revolutionary government, saying that he “doesn’t care” about them.
“I do not know them, and that is not my job,” he said.
At least 300 protesters showed up in Clark Freeport in Pampanga on Saturday to call for a revolutionary government, one led by Duterte. While the president said he doesn’t know the organizers, called the Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte-National Executive Coordinating Committee, he attended a 2018 convention staged by the group.
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