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Presidential bets on COVID-19 response: No sense of urgency, mass vaccination not prioritized

Angelica Y. Yang - Philstar.com
Presidential bets on COVID-19 response: No sense of urgency, mass vaccination not prioritized
This composite photo shows presidential aspirants Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, Sen. Manny Pacquiao, Vice President Leni Robredo and Sen. Ping Lacson.
Facebook / Isko Moreno Domagoso | Facebook / Manny Pacquiao | Office of the Vice President / Released | Senate PRIB

MANILA, Philippines — A presidential aspirant believes that the Philippine government should have done more in moving urgently against COVID-19 when it was not yet a pandemic, while another says the country should have focused on mass vaccination efforts to prevent repeated lockdowns.

"There are a lot of good things that the administration did to respond to the pandemic, but the main problem was that there was no sense of urgency. There are lots of problems that could have been prevented if the government acted faster," Vice President Leni Robredo said in Tagalog in an interview on "The Jessica Soho Presidential Interviews."

According to her, the country did not act quickly when COVID-19 was still considered an epidemic in other countries. 

"We already knew that we had to close our borders. But it seemed like it took such a long time to make that decision," Robredo said.

She is running as an independent candidate in this year's elections, along with her running mate Kiko Pangilinan, who is from the Liberal Party.

Her statements come around a month after news agency Bloomberg reported that the Philippines claimed the 50th spot in terms of global COVID-19 resilience, out of 53 countries with the biggest economies.

For Manny Pacquiao, the standard bearer of the Cebu-based Abag Promdi, the government should have prioritized mass vaccination efforts at the onset of the pandemic. 

"Had we focused on vaccinating the Filipino people from the beginning, we wouldn't have these lockdowns which caused the closure of businesses and job losses," the retired boxer said. 


Ayuda distribution

On the other hand, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno said while it was hard to secure access to the life-saving vaccines, local government units were able to "deploy them immediately", citing the case of his city which has surpassed its vaccination target by more than double.

"There are many things that need to be adjusted- the distribution of cash assistance (ayuda) which should have been more efficient," he said. 

Moreno is the presidential bet of the Aksyon Demokratiko party. 

Senator Panfilo "Ping" Lacson said that the government should have ramped up its spending for cash subsidies, but this was hampered by the bureaucracy. 

"What was prioritized? Was it not the bureaucracy? And then [the ayuda] does not arrive and then there's still corruption involved? I'm mad at the corruption that's taking place during the pandemic," the Partido Reporma standard bearer said in Tagalog.

"The people who are supposed to benefit from this are already sick, and you're stealing money that was set aside for them. That's unforgiveable," he said.

Partido Federal ng Pilipinas’ bet Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. was invited to share his insights in Soho's "Presidential Interviews", but chose to not appear on the show, citing that he believed the multi award-winning veteran journalist to be "biased against the Marcoses." 

24 Oras earlier reported that the program extended the invite to the five presidential aspirants leading in the surveys. 

GMA Network, on the other hand, said it was "unfortunate" that Marcos declined the invitation while Lacson, Moreno, Pacquiao and Robredo participated in the interviews.

BONGBONG MARCOS

ELECTIONS

ISKO MORENO

JESSICA SOHO

LENI ROBREDO

MANNY PACQUIAO

PING LACSON

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