Vice President Leni Robredo‘s contributions to fight the COVID-19 health crisis were recalled after the Palace took a swipe at her criticisms against the government’s response to stranded Filipino passengers near the airport.
In a televised interview on June 17, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque advised Robredo to offer solutions instead of criticizing the administration.
“I just wish the Vice President could actually offer solutions,” Roque told ANC.
He was referring to Robredo’s comments on the government’s strategy in helping locally-stranded passengers return to their homes in the provinces last June 14.
“I-organisa ‘nyo iyong sistema kasi iyong dati nang mahihirap, lalong nahihirapan pa kasi hindi naman nagpupumilit iyong iba kung hindi nahihirapan dito, ‘di ba,” she said.
Robredo also bared that her office received numerous calls from people who mistook the Balik Probinsya program as her Hatid Probinsya or Hatid Tulong program. The former is a project of Sen. Christopher Go.
The main goal of both initiatives is to provide assistance to Filipinos who were stuck in Metro Manila during the lockdown that started last March. The projects differ in terms of the type of applicants.
Robredo cited the case of Michelle Silvertino, the single mother who died at a footbridge in Pasay City early this June after waiting for a bus ride home to Camarines Sur for five days.
Calls to bring justice for Silvertino trended on social media when news outlets reported about the incident.
“Nakakaawa eh. Kasi kung alam niya sana kung kailan siya makakasakay, kung alam niya sana kung saan siya pupunta, hindi ito nangyari… Pero ilan pa ba iyong magiging ganito kapag hindi maayos iyong sistema?” Robredo said.
VP stepped up during the crisis
Robredo and her anti-poverty program called Angat Buhay had been helping Filipinos, particularly health workers and other COVID-19 frontliners, in terms of transport, food, medical equipment and other needs since the government imposed strict quarantine restrictions mid-March.
These were pointed out by Filipinos on social media following Roque’s remarks against the vice-president.
One Twitter user enumerated Robredo’s solutions to problems during the COVID-19 crisis which were separate from the government’s efforts.
VP Leni Robredo COVID-19 Response:
1. Free Shuttle Service
2. Dorm for Frontliners
3. 60.9 Cash donations (PPEs and Medical Supplies)
4. Community Mart (for QC and Pasig)
5. Purchased 14M COVID-19 testing kits
6. Temporary Shelter – Lung Center PH
Solution? Check this Roque! pic.twitter.com/eLUxaYsxTC
— Deo Mariano Enalpe 🇵🇭 (@deoenalpe_phl) June 17, 2020
Another created a collage of screenshots of headlines about these activities, which range from raising funds, free dorms and shuttle services.
— Millennials PH (@MillennialsPH_) June 17, 2020
Former senatorial candidate Samira Gutoc also quipped on Twitter that Robredo might soon find the solution to the supposed root cause of all the problems in the country.
“Mars, wag mo hintaying malaman ni VP Leni na kayo ang tunay na problema. Baka kayo mismo, solusyunan niya rin. Biro lang Mars! Peace!” she said.
Former presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda suggested for Roque to return to uploading his TikTok dances.
“Roque should just offer TikTok dances rather than criticize Leni Robredo who has done a rotundful of work for our countrymen,” he said.
“She‘s been in constant dialogue, partnership and collaboration w/ public and private organizations to address the crisis. She has literally been working day in & out. She was never late/absent!” another user said.
Twitter user @chogiiwwaa, meanwhile, edited a screenshot of a report’s social media card telling Roque’s views.
“There. I fixed it,” the user said.
— LEGGO 🥛 (@chogiiwwaa) June 18, 2020
Recently, Robredo launched a local market app called Community Mart to help vendors and tricycle drivers recover from their losses.
The second-highest-ranking official in the government also launched a donation drive involving any kind of unused gadgets in their houses or offices to be used for helping the students and teachers of impoverished communities.
On the government’s defense
Roque continued to defend the administration’s policies on stranded Filipino passengers amid some criticisms over alleged poor coordination with local government units.
He also passed the blame of COVID-19 transmissions in the provinces on the nature of the deadly virus.
“The problem really is the nature of the disease. If you are tested now, you could test negative, in a few days later, you could test positive,” Roque told ANC.
“So what we are doing now is in addition to the testing being done in Metro Manila, which is PCR before being sent to the provinces, we have developed also the capability of the local government units outside of Manila to conduct their own PCR test, and that is why the local government upon receiving them, subject them to another test,” he added.