Mar 24, 2020

President Duterte addressed the nation yet again on Tuesday night, Mar. 24 after the passing of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act in the Senate and Congress and a week after the declaration of enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila and throughout Luzon.

[READ: Duterte places Luzon on “enhanced community quarantine”: Here’s what it really means]

During the short speech, the President took his time to thank the politicians (284 House members and all 12 Senators) who backed up his proposal, which will effectively declare a national emergency and give him special powers to address the COVID-19 crisis.

“The Executive department can now move freely to help the Filipinos in this crisis,” he said after namedropping House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Senate President Vicente Sotto III.

Gratitude to frontliners

Duterte finally acknowledged the hard work of health workers braving the frontlines, even thanking them and those who have sacrificed their lives in the “war” against COVID-19.

“Maraming, maraming salamat. Asahan niyo ang suporta ng gobyerno.”

Senator Pia Cayetano, yesterday in the Senate session deliberating the Bayanihan Act of 2020, proposed a P100,000 compensation to public and private healthcare workers who will contract severe COVID-19 infection while in the line of duty.

National action plan—or the lack thereof

The President also briefly alluded to a national action plan in the works, with the Department of National Defense, Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police singled out to reinforce the Department of Health and the Department of Interior and Local Government.

Many of those who have tuned in to the President’s last-minute speech lamented the lack of concrete steps to be taken in the said action plan.

Activist leader Renato Reyes Jr. took to Twitter to express his dismay over Duterte’s brief address, comparing it to a losing team’s coach’s pep talk.

“Wag kayong matakot”

Unlike his previous COVID-19 speeches, this one took only ten minutes and Duterte seemingly stuck to the script, assuring Filipinos that the government is on top of the situation.

Perhaps the only specific albeit vague point he had was pointing out that that supplies of food and water and all essentials will be provided along with financial assistance to the vulnerable—at least most of them. “Halos lahat po makakatanggap.”

The president also echoed his supporters’ rallying cry on social media pointing out that the least we can do is abide by the rules and stay indoors, never mind the lack of provisions to ensure we can live by what we have.

He also seems to have yielded his once critical view of LGUs who are going above and beyond national government directives saying, “To all my fellow public servants, let’s set aside our difference. We have only one common enemy and that is COVID-19.”

To end his speech, he relied on the time-tested phrase that has supposedly gotten us through natural calamities and many failed administrations: resilience.

[READ: Rather than rely on Pinoy resiliency, the government should focus on flood control]

“Nothing is more formidable and resilient than the Filipino spirit. Matindi ang kalaban pero we will not surrender. Hindi tayo susuko, tayo ay lalaban,” he said.

“Wag kayong matakot. Nandito yung gobyerno ninyo para kayo pagsilbihan at totoong pagsilbihan.”


Header photo courtesy of the Presidential Communications (Government of the Philippines) Facebook page

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Read more:

What we know so far about Duterte’s proposed Bayanihan Act seeking national emergency, special powers

Duterte declares state of calamity throughout PH for 6 months as COVID-19 cases rise

Duterte places Luzon on “enhanced community quarantine”: Here’s what it really means


TAGS: bayanihan to heal as one act covid-19 DOH Duterte frontliners national action plan