Reacting to Robredo's address, Palace says any contribution is 'much appreciated'

Alexis Romero - Philstar.com
Reacting to Robredo's address, Palace says any contribution is 'much appreciated'
Inilunsad kahapon ni Robredo ang Bayanihan E-Konsulta Facebook page para makatulong sa mga outpatient cases sa Metro Manila at iba pang karatig lugar na nasa ilalim ng Enhanced Community Quarantine lalo na sa mga mahihirap.
Release / Office of the Vice President

MANILA, Philippines — The Duterte administration is open to Vice President Leni Robredo's initiatives and proposals on enhancing pandemic response, Malacañang said Wednesday, in a rare expression of unity with the leader of the opposition.

Reacting to an address delivered by Robredo last Tuesday, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said any contribution, including policy recommendations from the political opposition that would ensure a successful fight against COVID-19, is "much appreciated."

"We welcome the initiatives of the vice president in the fight against COVID-19. which she enumerated in her Ulat sa Bayan and we are in no way diminishing her efforts in this trying time," Roque said in a statement.    

"We reiterate: Now is the time to focus on COVID-19 and help the national government in achieving population protection; so together, we will recover and have a happy Christmas and a better future for all Filipinos," he added.

Roque's latest statement was in direct contrast to his previous remarks that were dismissive of the vice president's suggestions on handling the pandemic. He would usually downplay Robredo's recommendations or accuse her of suggesting something that is already being done by the administration. Roque had also claimed that Robredo's camp was ignoring ongoing efforts to contain the pandemic, which has so far left more than 27,000 people dead in the Philippines and has dragged its economy into a recession.

Malacañang also shared Robredo's view about Filipinos who have provided assistance while the country is grappling with the pandemic. The vice president has said that Filipinos made it through the past year and a half because of the strength that they gave to one another.

"The Palace is one with the vice president in her Ulat sa Bayan message that in this challenging time of COVID-19, it is the Filipinos who helped and came to the rescue of fellow Filipinos," Roque said.  

"In fact, in his last State of the Nation Address, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte personally paid tribute to Filipinos who have provided essential health services, have made our food chain supply running, have boosted economic activity, and have ensured peace and order in our communities during this pandemic," he added.

Robredo delivered her Ulat sa Bayan or report to the nation a day after Duterte delivered his final SONA, which lasted for nearly three hours. During her address, the vice president said her office would discuss details of its policy recommendations for the pandemic in the next few days.

She said some of the recommendations include a faster and integrated system for testing, tracing, and treatment; direct delivery of vaccines to communities; reviewing revenues from the sin tax, for allocation towards pandemic needs; and paying off the debts of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. to hospitals to ensure their continued operations. The vice president also called for the proper and sufficient enforcement of the Universal Healthcare Law; the passage of the third tranche of the Bayanihan law and the allocation of its funds to measures that would prevent hunger; and mechanisms that would lend money to small businesses and provide aid to those who lost their jobs.

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