Vice President Leni Robredo countered President Rodrigo Duterte‘s suggestion for her to spray pesticide as supposed cure to the health crisis during his national address last night.
The Palace had been dismissive of Robredo’s suggestions to help the national government improve its response to the novel coronavirus since the first time she shared them last July.
During his weekly televised address that aired Monday evening, Duterte ranted against Robredo anew over her criticisms against the Manila Bay white sand project and the government’s overall pandemic response.
He argued that critics such as Robredo will only complain regardless if his administration takes action or not, citing the perceived enjoyment of the crowd that visited the artificial beach last weekend.
“Now, people now are really enjoying the reclaimed area with the white sand maski na papaano. Wala naman talaga tayong magawa. You do it, may masabi sila. You do not do it, may masabi si Leni.What do you want us to do?” Duterte said.
In the same speech, the chief executive continued his outburst against Robredo and quipped that she should spray the Philippines with pesticide from an airplane so that everyone’s dead.
“Huwag kayong maniwala diyan — sus mga itong dilawan lalo na — I hate to mention her name, but ito si Leni, kung ano-anong pinagsasabi. Alam mo Leni, kung gusto mo — if you really want to do away with the COVID, spray-han natin itong Pilipinas o Manila ng pesticide galing sa eroplano para patay lahat,” Duterte said.
He rambled that the virus which causes COVID-19 cannot be exterminated and reiterated his previous position to wait for the vaccine.
“You cannot—you cannot exterminate the—the COVID by itong ano lang ngayon. And you’ll just — the only thing that we can do really is to wear a mask, wear a face mask, and that’s it and wait for the vaccine. It’s COVID-19 equals vaccine,” Duterte said.
What Robredo said
In a statement after the airing of Duterte’s taped address, Robredo noted that a public health crisis will only be resolved with medical solutions and not by merely spraying pesticide.
Watched the regular Monday Presscon tonight. Di ko matiis magkaroon ng takeaways. Hindi yata sapat na basta may…
Robredo enumerated the current problems she believed the government needed to address first:
- Suppressing the pandemic by means of medical and non-medical interventions;
- Overcoming humanitarian emergencies including poverty, hunger, unemployment, mental distress, etc. caused by the pandemic;
- Restructuring public and private finances in the wake of the pandemic;
- Rebuilding the economy in an inclusive, resilient, and sustainable way.
The vice president then responded to Duterte’s pest spray suggestion and said the first issue she mentioned should be prioritized.
“‘Yung number 1 po, hindi ma sosolusyunan sa pag-spray ng pesticide sa Manila galing sa eroplano,” she said.
Prior to this, Robredo also questioned Duterte’s decision to extend his declaration of the state of calamity in relation to the pandemic from when he first imposed it last March 16 to September 21, 2021.
Last week, the chief executive signed Proclamation 1021 “extending the period of state of calamity throughout the Philippines due to Coronavirus Disease 2019.”
While she recognized the need for declaring the state of calamity, Robredo considered that it would have been better if the government conducted periodic assessments of the country’s situation instead of extending it.
“Sa panahon ng krisis, inaasahan natin na kailangan ng deklarasyon na ito…Pero hindi ko lang alam kung ano iyong basehan na hanggang 2021. Sana ano na lang, parang may periodic sana na pag-assess. May periodic sanang pag-assess kung kinakailangan pa,” Robredo said during her radio program last Sunday, September 20.
To this, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque remarked that Robredo is “blind and deaf” and claimed the government is already conducting periodic reporting.
“Again, simply blind and deaf to the fact that the periodic reporting, all you have to do is go to the webpage of the DOH, all she has to do is to consult the regular report being submitted by the Office of the President to the Congress pursuant to the Bayanihan 1 and Bayanihan 2,” Roque said.
“Thank you very much for the suggestion Madame Vice President,” he added.
On Monday, Roque replied to Robredo remark anew and said that she should propose a solution to the pandemic that is not dependent on vaccine.
In June, supporters of Robredo listed down the contributions of the Office of the Vice President to fight the COVID-19 health crisis after the Palace took a swipe at her criticisms against the government’s response to stranded Filipino passengers near the airport.
The recognized 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.