This handout photo taken and released on July 27, 2020 by the Philippines' Presidential Photo Division (PPD) shows Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (R) delivering his annual State of the Nation Address in congress in Manila.
Robinson Ninal/Philippines' Presidential Photographers Division/AFP
Leachon on Duterte's SONA: I was expecting 'inspiring, powerful' action plan
Bella Perez-Rubio (Philstar.com) - July 28, 2020 - 6:35pm

MANILA, Philippines — Former adviser to the COVID-19 task force Tony Leachon on Tuesday said he expected more from President Rodrigo Duterte's penultimate State of the Nation Address Address.

"I was expecting that... 60% of the [discussion would be on] the health crisis: the granular plan regarding detection, testing, isolation and quarantine, and then [transition] to the economic recovery plan, [around] 20-30%, and then the 10% would be other matters," Leachon told ABS-CBN on Tuesday.

The health reform advocate clarified that he didn't expect Duterte to hash out all the details of the government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, rather he hoped for "a review of the national action plan" that would be "inspiring, powerful, [and] engaging."

"Moving forward, in the next six months, from July to September, the question would be, first where are we now in terms of COVID? Where do we want to be in the next six months? And then try to tell the public the short-term as well as the medium term [plans]," Leachon prompted.

He further said that he would have hoped for a discussion of how such plans would be executed, coupled with timelines, a metric of success, and a "certain level of accountability."

Vaccine by September?

Leachon also expressed reservations regarding the chief executive's discussion of a vaccine for COVID-19.

"I used to work in the pharmaceutical industry, I used to be the medical director of Pfizer for two decades, an American company, and usually China has not been considered a reference country for quality products," Leachon said.

Duterte on Monday said he "pleaded" with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to prioritize the Philippines once a vaccine for COVID-19 becomes available.

Referring to the possible quality and efficacy of a Chinese vaccine, Leachon said "this is the first time that I would hear that China will be manufacturing a vaccine out of [the] Mainland."

"The usual quality countries that we refer to would be the United States, [the United Kingdom], the European Union, Australia, and of course Japan, to a certain degree," he said.

He also disputed the president's projected timeline for the vaccine.

While Duterte on Monday said he expects the government to have access to the vaccine by September, Leachon said he does not expect a vaccine until March 2021.

RELATED: COVID-19 vaccine by 2021 a long shot but possible — pharma firms

Roque rates Duterte's speech '9 out of 10'

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on Monday said he would rate the president's speech a nine out of 10. Despite this, he also said he would've added more "quotable quotes" if he had written it.

Malacañang itself said the government's recovery plan would be "unveiled" at the chief executive's fifth SONA, while the president's own communications team said that Duterte would talk about "proposed measures to strengthen the country’s healthcare system and to improve the delivery of the government’s assistance to the vulnerable sectors."

In a speech which lasted well over an hour, Duterte threatened telecommunication companies Smart and Globe, hit back at Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, expressed apprehension in asserting the country's legal victory in the West Philippine Sea, and claimed that martial law in Mindanao ended without abuses by the police and the military.

READ: What wasn't mentioned in Duterte's fifth SONA Things Duterte said in his fifth SONA

He also proposed reviving the death penalty by lethal injection, a move which has since been opposed by the Commission on Human Rights and several senators.

As it stands, the country has been under community quarantine for 133 days — the longest in the world.

Despite this, cases are surging with the Department of Health logging over 2,000 cases four days in a row from Thursday to Sunday.

On Tuesday, the DOH placed the national caseload at 83,673 and fatalities at 1,947.

Accounting for deaths and recoveries, the Philippines has 55,109 active cases of novel coronavirus—the highest in Southeast Asia.

A researcher from the University of the Philippines on Monday warned that the number of COVID-19 cases in the country could reach 90,000 by the end of July and 140,000 by the end of August.

2020 SONA COVID-19 NOVEL CORONAVIRUS
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