MANILA — Malacañan on Wednesday accused Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon of “politicking” when he said that the national government failed in handling the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) health crisis. Roque disagreed with Drilon’s opinion that the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has failed to effectively prevent the spread of the virus, saying he was speaking as a member of the opposition.
“I think we will always have different points of view, particularly because they’re coming from the opposition and I think they’re resorting to politicking too early,” Roque said in an interview over CNN Philippines. He echoed the appeal of President Rodrigo Duterte to set aside politics and instead, help provide solutions to the Covid-19 problems besetting the country.
“The appeal of the President is to concentrate on the Covid-19, set aside politicking for the time-being which I think is a very wise policy,” he added.
Roque insisted anew that the country is winning its fight against Covid-19 because the government immediately imposed lockdowns in Metro Manila and other parts of the country to prevent the surge in cases of up to over three million, as projected by researchers from the University of the Philippines.
As of July 21, there are 70,764 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the country. Recoveries are now at 23,281 and 1,837 deaths. UP researchers earlier said Covid-19 cases could reach 85,000 by the end of the month.
“I don’t think we failed. For as long as we did not meet the 3.5 [million] projection of UP, and UP has been very good at their forecast ‘no, I think we will have succeeded,” Roque said. He also said he could not agree with those who criticized the government as a failure for the continued rise in Covid-19 cases because the rest of data showed a low death rate.
“I have to emphasize what could have been and I have to emphasize the fact that mortality rate is low, critical care capacity is still good, and the fact that most of the cases are asymptomatic and mild. For as long as we’re minimizing death rates, I think we have succeeded,” he said.
He recognized that one life lost is one too many, but noted that it was still a significant improvement. He said the public should also expect cases to surge with an increased testing capacity of 25,000 to 27,000 tests per day.
“As we improve our testing capacity, we are bound to get more numbers. What’s important really is that we are able to isolate and trace the people that we come into contact with to contain the spread of the contagion. I think the numbers per se will increase with increased testing, that’s a forgone conclusion,” he said.
In a statement on Tuesday, Drilon urged the IATF-EID to “take a second look” on steps being taken by the government so far in addressing the pandemic.
“They should review their performance and find out how they can be more effective. What did Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam do that we failed to do? You know, these days just to survive is already an achievement by itself. What do we have to do to prevent the spread of the virus?” he said.
Duterte earlier claimed that the opposition is launching “black propaganda” against his administration amid the health crisis. He slammed his critics and detractors anew, telling them that all they do is “criticize and talk.” (PNA)
Photo caption: RAPID TEST FOR locally stranded individuals (LSIs). Around 121 LSIs undergo rapid tests before they take their sweeper flight to Roxas City in Capiz at Villamor Airbase Golf Club, Pasay City on Tuesday (July 21, 2020). The LSIs received food packs and financial assistance through the Department of Social Welfare and Development. (PNA photo by Avito C. Dalan)