President Rodrigo Duterte, in his latest address to the nation last night June 22, said Cebu City’s growing number of confirmed COVID-19 cases can be blamed on the Cebuanos’ overconfidence and complacency. He also said that government officials are bound to point fingers at each other once a problem arises.
“Alam mo kasi ‘pag may problema tapunan na ‘yan eh. If you solve the problem locally among—amongst the officials there, there’s bound to be a derailment in the programs of government because they would start to blame each other,” said Duterte.
Duterte announced that he will be sending over Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu to oversee the COVID-19 situation in Cebu City. Cimatu will be recommending the necessary precautionary measures to the Inter-Agency Task Force. Duterte also called on the Department of Health and National Task Force to assist Cimatu, and gave the secretary permission to call on the military if needed.
“You were forewarned in advance that there was this very dangerous microbe called COVID-19. We were given the proper advice by the World Health Organization,” Duterte said in Cebuano. “But you still continued to roam around. I’m aware of it. […] And it’s not part of our program to keep on reprimanding people, but that’s exactly what happened.”
Duterte talks vaccine updates
President Duterte believes that many countries have “now perfected some vaccine.” He then stated that the body is the main source of defense against the virus and explained in his own terms how the vaccine is like injecting an anti-venom medicine into a horse that has been bitten by a snake.
The president also expressed his anger for being under lockdown as well. “Alam mo sa totoo lang if there is anybody who wants to be out to enjoy and even to live life normally, ako. Ako ‘yung ayaw talaga sa itong lockdown-lockdown,” Duterte said. “Pero ang sabi ko sa inyo, kung kayo hindi makatiis at tinamaan kayo, sorry na lang.”
Duterte against the Communist Party
According to Duterte, the fight against COVID-19 has been an advantage for groups like “Abu Sayyaf, mga terorista with no ideology, [and] the Communist Party.” He stated that the ideologies of these terrorist groups could continue on to the next generation and “give us no respite.”
The President stated that their terrorist acts may place the country’s democracy in jeopardy, adding that the primary threat to our country are the communists. Duterte then ordered the Armed Forces to hit the communists.
DOH against COVID-19
According to Department of Health Secretary Francis Duque, 32 families with frontliners who died due to COVID-19 have been given P1 million each while 15 frontliners who have contracted the disease but are still alive were given compensation of P100,000. PhilHealth has also paid for all their hospital expenses.
Duque said that there is a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPEs) because other countries are also availing of these. However, he clarified that the DOH is continuing their efforts in obtaining the necessary amount of PPEs.
Following the issuance of a subpoena to the DOH by the Office of the Ombudsman, Duque said that these reports have also already been given to the Ombudsman. Duterte backed Duque stating that the DOH secretary is not corrupt as he is already a rich man.
Department of National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana reported that 56,000 OFWs were able to return to their provinces. However, according to Secretary Duque, there are still 40,000 incoming OFWs. They will also be returning some 280 Filipinos from Saudi Arabia who have already died due to non-COVID reasons.
According to Lorenzana, they have yet to address the locally stranded individuals who are returning to and flying from Metro Manila, and will address problems with transportation to and from the airports. Duterte added that Ilocos mayor Chavit Singson will be donating 400 buses to help address transportation concerns in Visayas and Mindanao.
Social Amelioration Program
According to Department of Interior and Local Government Eduardo Año, they are now distributing the second tranche of the social amelioration program to 1,335,711 families. As of June 19, Año reported that the Department of Social Welfare and Development have already distributed a total of 6.7 billion.
Año also reported that they are now investigating 728 individuals suspected of committing anomalies in the distribution of SAP based on the 496 complaints they received.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque asked if the president has already received the Anti-Terror Bill. Duterte answered that he has given it to his legal team in Malacañang for review.
“Automatic ‘yan. ‘Pag daan sa akin, I endorse it to legal. Without even reading it actually, if you want really to know. It’s legal who will return it to me with a recommendation whether I will approve it or not,” Duterte said. The bill was received by the Malacañang on June 9, leaving only 16 days from today June 23, until it lapses into law 30 days after its receipt on July 10.
Duterte ended the address by reminding the public of the necessary health precautions against COVID-19.
Header photo courtesy of the Presidential Communications Operations Office
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Writer: THEA TORRES