This is how the Palace received Robredo’s COVID-19 measured policy suggestions

September 17, 2020 - 1:13 PM
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In this Sept. 14, 2020 photo, Vice President Leni Robredo appears before the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives to present the proposed budget of the Office of the Vice President for Fiscal Year 2021. (OVP/Released)

The Palace continued to dismiss Vice President Leni Robredo‘s recommendations to improve the government’s pandemic response which she criticized anew during a televised interview.

In the past two public addresses, Robredo also called for the government to focus on health-oriented solutions to overcome the public health disaster first before restoring the economy.

READ: ‘Madadaig natin ang krisis na ito’: Robredo stresses health-oriented recommendations to overcome pandemic

Moreover, she had also sent a comprehensive letter addressed to presidential spokesperson Harry Roque last June 30 where she provided detailed suggestions on how to improve their response efforts in all sectors, including the health, education and economic sector.

What the Palace said

In an interview with CNN Philippines on September 16, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said that Robredo is entitled to her own opinions as a member of the opposition.

“She is entitled to her opinion. Of course, as the leader of the opposition, we don’t expect anything positive about this administration from her,” Roque said.

“We have accepted that, I think people have accepted that. She can say all the negative things about the administration, but people still support the President,” he added.

Robredo’s aide and spokesperson Barry Gutierrez, however, pointed out that the administration shouldn’t just shrug off the vice president’s recommendations as politicking.

“Sa panahon na ito, hindi na dapat ang pag-iisip natin oposisyon o administrasyon. Ang pag-iisip natin dapat dito lahat tayo ay Pilipino, lahat tayo gustong makaahon ang buong bansa natin laban sa pandemyang ito,” Gutierrez told CNN Philippines’ Newsroom Ngayon.

Some Filipinos also echoed this view and argued that what Robredo stated was constructive criticism on how the Duterte administration could better help the people.

Screenshot by Interaksyon
Screenshot by Interaksyon

Robredo’s suggestions

In an interview with GMA’s “Quarantined with Howie Severino,” Robredo reiterated her previous remarks that the government seemed to have no concrete plan in responding to the pandemic.

“It seems that there is no cohesive plan… there’s no one leading. If you look at the work being done by the agencies, as if they were working in silos. Ideally, the President should be the one leading (the COVID-19 response). But if he doesn’t want that role or he is busy with other things, there is at least one person who will do it,” she said.

Robredo also maintained her position on not backing calls for Health Secretary Francisco Duque III’s resignation, citing that the current problem is the system and not Duque.

“For me, the failure is the system. It’s not just Secretary Duque. So, whether or not you remove Secretary Duque, if the system remains, the problems will persist,” she said.

Several senators and most of the general public have been calling for Duque to step down from his post due to his perceived failure in leadership in resolving the health crisis in the country.

He was also tagged in the ongoing corruption scandal within the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation last August.

However, amid the several serious allegations against him, he continues to enjoy the trust and confidence of President Rodrigo Duterte, who also defended him in his late-night national addresses.

Right to criticize

Robredo also pointed out that as a Filipino citizen, she has the right to criticize the administration for the sake of nation-building.

“May karapatan akong mag-criticize if I need to criticize kasi ‘yun ‘yung demands ng pagiging Pilipino ko. Ang demand sa akin as a Filipino ay maging bahagi…ako sa nation-building,” she said.

As a high-ranking public official, Robredo also has the obligation to use her platform and influence to express her proposals.

“Sa akin, obligasyon, ‘yun and hindi puwedeng sabihin na dahil hindi ako Presidente, hindi ako puwedeng magsalita. As I have said, kahit walang katungkulan, puwedeng magsalita,” she said.

Robredo, OVP’s COVID-19 initiatives

In June, Robredo’s supporters recalled the contributions of the Office of the Vice President in addressing COVID-19 woes after  the Palace took a swipe at her criticisms against the government’s response to stranded Filipino passengers near the airport.
At the onset of the enhanced community quarantine, The Office of the Vice President took the lead and offered rides to employees who need to get to work as pubic transportation halted operations.
Her team also provided dorms to frontliners in need of temporary shelter while they undergo quarantine and likewise provided these healthworkers personal protective equipment and medical supplies, among others.
Among her recent initiatives include gadget donations for students as they shift to distance learning, Bayanihan e-skwela or instructional video series for educators, learners as well as the online platform her team set up for thousands of displace workers called “Bayanihanhanapbuhay.”
The OVP reported that as of September 16, the platform has more than 8,600 job offerings.