MANILA – Malacañang on Thursday denied that only one of the suggestions of Vice President Maria Leonor Robredo to boost the fight against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) has been done by the government.
In a virtual press conference aired on state-run PTV-4, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque maintained that the government has implemented all the necessary measures to address the Covid-19 pandemic.
Roque made the remarks after Robredo claimed that only the elimination of “fresh” and “late” cases in the Department of Health’s (DOH) reporting of new Covid-19 cases, which is among her several suggestions, has so far been done by the government.
“Nag-sabi ang Pangalawang Pangulo na tanging ang pagtanggal ng ‘fresh’ at ‘late’ cases sa DOH reporting ang naipatupad diumano. Well, lilinawin ko po, hindi po ito ang katotohanan (The Vice President said only the elimination of ‘fresh’ and ‘late’ cases of DOH reporting has so far been implemented. Well, just to be clear, that’s not the truth),” Roque said.
Malacañang has received a letter from Robredo, which contained several recommendations on how to improve the government’s response to Covid-19 pandemic.
In her letter, Robredo urged the Duterte government to keep the public informed about the country’s fight against Covid-19, publish an epidemic curve, ensure the proper use of budget to address the pandemic, address transport issues, restart the economy, and allow education to continue.
Robredo also questioned the government’s supposed failure to reach its target number of daily Covid-19 tests as well as the alleged discrepancies in data related to the coronavirus.
She also asked the government about the total budget for the procurement of Covid-19 test kits and the target number for the hiring of contact tracers.
Responding to Robredo, Roque said the epidemic curve was uploaded on the official website of DOH.
Roque also said the government is keeping the public informed through the online portal covid19.gov.ph launched by the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) in March.
“Nai-setup po ito (online portal) ng PCOO noong Marso pa at ngayon mayroon na tayong ‘Laging Handa’ unified website na siyang official platform ng lahat ng Covid-19 related matters (The online portal was set up by the PCOO in March and we also have the ‘Laging Handa’ unified website that serves as a platform for all Covid-19 related matters),” he said.
In a separate statement, Philippine Information Agency (PIA) director general Ramon Cualoping III said the unified website can be accessed through http://www.laginghanda.gov.ph, http://www.covid19.gov.ph, or http://www.wehealasone.gov.ph.
“The PCOO, PIA, and DICT (Department of Information and Communications Technology) continue to improve the website content as we complete our data-sharing agreements with other IATF member-agencies,” Cualoping said.
With regard to the government’s target number of daily tests, Roque told Robredo that as of July 9, around 25,000 actual tests have been done per day.
For contact tracing, there are already 69,000 contact tracers in the country, Roque said.
Roque added that the government is eyeing the hiring of 50,000 more contact tracers to boost the country’s contact tracing capability.
He said the government is expecting a “V-shaped” economic recovery despite the Covid-19 crisis that hit the country.
A V-shaped economic recovery refers to a sharp economic decline followed by a quick and sustained recovery.
“Kakayanin nating makabangon dito sa pandemya ng Covid (We can recover from the Covid-19 pandemic),” Roque said. “Kampante pa rin tayo sa V-shaped recovery dahil napakalakas nga ng ating ekonomiya. Kakayanin po natin (We expect a V-shaped recovery because we have a robust economy. We can do that).”
Cualoping assured Robredo that the government, through PCOO led by Secretary Martin Andanar, is “working 24/7, leaving no region behind when it comes to informing and engaging the public.”
“But we do not stop here. We actively engage with our local government executives, information officers, and youth leaders through the Leading Forward town hall meetings. We bring spokespersons from different agencies closer to the people by allowing our participants to ask practical questions in adjusting to the new normal,” he said.
Cualoping expressed hope that Robredo would instead help the government promote the Laging Handa website and other communications channels to raise public awareness on Covid-19.
He was also optimistic that Robredo would help dismiss disinformation amid the pandemic.
“The Duterte administration is on top of the situation, but it needs everyone’s support to ensure our victory and resilience against Covid-19,” Cualoping said. (PNA)