Duterte’s address on COVID-19 juxtaposed with Singaporean PM’s

March 14, 2020 - 11:47 AM
Duterte in March 12 press con
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte announces the content of the resolution adopted by the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases following the meeting at the Malacañan Palace on March 12, 2020. (PCOO/Richard Madelo)

As President Rodrigo Duterte addressed the nation for the second time about the novel coronavirus on Thursday, stark comparisons were made with the Singaporean prime minister’s speech delivered a few minutes earlier.

Among the things Duterte announced in the briefing were the status of the country’s alert level in light of a public health emergency, class suspensions and the “community quarantine” to be imposed on Metro Manila.

He also managed to insert remarks about Chinese President Xi Jinping and his longtime aide.

The chief executive was supposed to deliver his speech at 6:30 p.m. but he came on-air almost three hours after.

The timing was nearly the same period as the address delivered by another leader of a different nation—Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who gave updates about the city-state’s medical, economic and psychological outlook on the situation.

While Lee acknowledged the World Health Organization‘s declaration of the COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic, he told his constituents that the city-state will not impose a lockdown unlike China and Italy.

Lee also thanked the Singaporeans for their efforts amid the outbreak, particularly medical workers and healthcare professionals who are at the frontlines of the pandemic.

“I thank all Singaporeans who are dealing with this calmly and responsibly. We must keep up our efforts, and remain #SGUnited,” part of his post reads.

PM Lee Hsien Loong on the COVID-19 situation in Singapore on 12 March 2020

It is five weeks since I spoke about the COVID-19 situation in Singapore. So it is timely to update Singaporeans again on the medical, economic and psychological outlooks of the situation.Today, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. This means that while the situation in Singapore remains under control, the COVID-19 threat will be with us for a long time. We cannot be complacent. There are some baseline precautions we must get used to, like maintaining good personal hygiene and not holding large gatherings. We must also plan ahead in case a major outbreak happens in Singapore, like in South Korea or Italy.If a major outbreak happens, we will need more stringent social distancing measures, such as suspending schools and compulsory telecommuting. These will slow down the rate of transmission and prevent our healthcare system from being overwhelmed.Already our economy has been seriously impacted, so we are working on a second stimulus package to support businesses and workers. Singapore’s response to COVID-19 has been recognised by the WHO and the international community. This is through the efforts of many Singaporeans, from the frontline staff to all of us keeping #SGclean. I thank all Singaporeans who are dealing with this calmly and responsibly. We must keep up our efforts, and remain #SGUnited. – LHL (Video by Mediacorp)

Posted by Lee Hsien Loong on Thursday, March 12, 2020


A Filipino journalist couldn’t help but compare how the two leaders delivered their speeches and addressed their constituents since it was aired at almost the same time.

“The difference was VAST. After PH (Philippines) speech, questions abounded: What does this mean? In SG (Singapore), speech was clear, precise. Done in 11 min,” she wrote.

Lee’s briefing was very “informative, precise and clear,” another one pointed out, as he contrasted it with Duterte’s meandering address.

RELATED: Duterte failed to acknowledge ‘real heroes’ in last night’s COVID-19 address

An online user likewise lauded how the Singaporean leader addressed the public and even described it as “therapeutic” listening.

It was not the first time that the local online community found comparisons between the two leaders.

When Duterte previously briefed the nation about COVID-19, observations were made about how it significantly differed from his first one where he talked about the viral disease in a non-serious manner.

RELATED: From virus slapping to staying united: Duterte’s change of tone in addressing COVID-19

At an earlier briefing on February 13, he updated Filipinos about how the Department of Health has been responding to the virus and urged the public to observe stringent hygienic practices.

Videos from the briefing became viral on social media where the Filipino leader quips he would slap the deadly pathogen despite it being minuscule in nature and invisible to the eye.

His remarks have become the subject of memes and jokes among the local online community, including satire pages.