Duterte reminded: COVID-19 is the problem, not Robredo
A policeman (R) looks on as residents wearing government imposed face masks and face shields to protect them from COVID-19 coronavirus disease check their body temperature priorto allowing them to pray at their relatives’ grave ahead of a weeklong closure of cemeteries on the annual observance of All Saints’ Day in Manila on October 28, 2020.
AFP/Ted Aljibe

Duterte reminded: COVID-19 is the problem, not Robredo

(Philstar.com) - March 2, 2021 - 3:15pm

MANILA, Philippines — The president of the minority Liberal Party on Tuesday said it would be better for President Rodrigo Duterte to focus on the pandemic instead of using televised meetings for profanity-laced rants against Vice President Leni Robredo and other people critical of government response to COVID-19.

Sen. Francis Pangilinan defended the vice president after Duterte cursed at her and said that she should die for making comments about, among other things, the use of Sinovac vaccines from China despite doubts from the public and from medical groups.

"COVID-19 is the problem, not VP Robredo," Pangilinan said in a statement in Filipino. "From the start, she has been tirelessly helping and finding a solution to this coronavirus problem."

Robredo, a member of the LP, is not a member of the Duterte Cabinet and is not inlcuded in meetings of the government task force on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over the coronavirus pandemic, President Duterte's live-streamed addresses — meant to provide updates on the administration's pandemic response — have included lengthy asides where the chief executive lashes out against critics. Aside from Robredo, the president has also made comments about Sen. Risa Hontiveros, Sen. Panfilo Lacson of the Senate majority bloc, and former Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV.

"What are you doing? Every time you open your mouth, it seems to be idiotic, eh recommendatory nga (it's only recommendatory)," the president said, referring to a comment by Robredo Sunday to wait for the Health Technology Assessment Council's assessment of Sinovac. 

The panel said last week that it "commits to judiciously look into all aspects of the CoronaVac vaccine which can impact the health system response as well as the health of vaccine recipients." 

Duterte also claimed that Robredo's call for him to be vaccinated in public — a move that the president said he was willing to do before changing his mind but is again willing to do — is meant as a "trap" for him.

"Ang duda mo kasi tapos na ako kaya you want me to go into a trap of saying things which are not appropriate. ‘Yan ang mahirap sa’yo,” he also said. 

(It's because you think I have already been vaccinated so you want me to go into a trap of saying things which are not appropriate. That is what makes you difficult (to deal with.)

'Eye on the ball' 

Pangilinan said that the government should focus on addressing the COVID-19 pandemic "so we won't be the laggard of Asia."

"Tutukan nang husto ang pagsugpo sa Covid para hindi tayo kulelat sa buong Asya," Pangilinan also said in his statement. 

Earlier in February, Robredo pointed out in her weekly radio show that Duterte's administration has not been very gracious in accepting legitimate criticisms over its governance amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"Eye on the ball, so to speak. The 'V' we should focus on is 'virus' and not the VP,' Pangilinan said. — Franco Luna 

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