Duterte reminded of loved ones lost to COVID-19 after downplaying death toll

September 1, 2021 - 6:43 PM
A photo of President Rodrigo Duterte during his national address on August 31 (Facebook/PCOO)

Some Filipinos reminded President Rodrigo Duterte that the country’s COVID-19 death toll is not just a number.

Duterte in his latest address downplayed the number of COVID-19-related deaths.

The Philippines surpassed the 33,000-mark with 33,008 deaths on August 28.

As of September 1, the country hit the two million COVID-19 cases in total.

The Department of Health recorded 14,216 new COVID-19 infections which brought the total to 2,003,955.

Of these, there are 33,533 deaths and 1,829,473 recoveries.

In his recorded weekly meeting with Cabinet members aired Tuesday morning, the chief executive was still not worried by the death toll during that time.

Duterte viewed that the number of deaths in the country is still low compared to other countries.

“There’s a rise of COVID cases all over. Hirap ang Amerika ngayon. Ang Europe is suffering from a… Maraming mas namatay, Turkey, maraming patay. Saudi Arabia, mas marami ang patay. Ito atin, hawa lang. Ang patay natin hindi masyado ganoon karami,” he said.

However, the president erred with his remark on Saudi Arabia.

Based on the Reuters COVID-19 tracker, Saudi Arabia has 544,449 COVID-19 infections and 8,545 COVID-19-related deaths.

Meanwhile, here is the pandemic situation of the rest of the countries Duterte mentioned:

  1. United States – 39,232,472 COVID-19 infections and 639,901 deaths
  2. Europe – 55,302,000 COVID infections and 1,352,000 deaths
  3. Turkey – 6,387,082 COVID infections and 56,675 deaths

Last April, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III also expressed a similar view after the country surpassed the one-millionth mark of total COVID-19 cases.

“The one million cases can be viewed also from a different angle that this will sooner or later bring in a million recoveries. We need to look at it from a more optimistic lens of getting a high recovery rate of more than 90%,” Duque said.

That time, the new tally was at 1,013,618 COVID-19 cases. Of these, 925,027 are recoveries; 71,675 are active cases and 16,916 are deaths.

READ: ‘Never mind number of deaths?’: Duque slammed for optimistic view at Philippines’ above 1 million COVID-19 cases

‘They are not just numbers’

Social media users highlighted that the tally of COVID-19 deaths comprises lost lives of relatives and loved ones.

“Put faces on that numbers. Acknowledge the grief of those whose parents, siblings, and children died. 33 thousand plus are lives. Not just numbers. 33k bloods in your hands,” one Twitter user said.

“They’re not just part of the statistics. They’re not just numbers. Kaya ganito pa rin ang sitwasyon natin kasi ‘hindi ganoon karami’ ang sa tingin ng presidente. Sana lang hindi nya maranasan ang naranasan ng mga pamilyang nawalan ng mahal sa buhay. Hindi lang numero ang kuya ko,” another online user wrote.

Others stressed anew that Filipinos’ lives are not just statistics.

“Lives of your people are not merely numbers!” one user said.

“One death too many. Unavoidable deaths,” another user said.

Last March 15, to mark the Philippines’ first lockdown anniversary, science group Earth Shaker Philippines released a graphic to remember the Filipinos who have died due to COVID-19 that time.

The number of COVID-19 deaths that day stood at 12,829, which were far from the alarming figures today.

In the graphic, human-like dots or “persona icons” represented the more than 12,000 individuals who have succumbed to the deadly disease.

READ: On Philippine lockdown anniversary, science group remembers over 12,800 lives lost due to COVID-19

The graphic was similar to the tribute of the New York Times to more than 500,000 individuals who have died due to COVID-19 in the United States.

The NYT published their graphic on their front page last February 23.