COVID-19 briefings revealed more similarities between President Rodrigo Duterte, President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The three leaders apparently can’t properly manage the flow of information, incite even more fear with brash rambling and couldn’t clearly lay out plans of action during a crisis. Dodging accountability and displaying a lack of credibility in the midst of the pandemic stirred public outrage and distrust on social media. If you missed their briefings, here are some of the highlights and the reactions they garnered.
Duterte has zero plans to stop his swearing habit and even brazenly defends his unpresidential and foul-mouthed language. In his divisive briefing on COVID-19 measures, he managed to squeeze in a few curse words. “They do not need the police, mayors, senators because on their own, they can survive. And to think that the richest people in this country, in this f*cking country, were the ones who are milking the most out of our resources,” the President said about rich people not needing the help of the government despite having a mandate to serve every citizen. But his speech wasn’t pro-poor either. He asked everyone to follow unexplained protocols blindly with a vague claim about how the government has money to “defeat that son of a b*tch virus.”
How the budget is going to be used and where exactly it’s coming from were left unsaid. In typical Duterte fashion, his plan B is Chinese aid. “All we have to do is to ask. Ako ang tingin ko, maybe there will be a time, if things deteriorate, that I have to call on China to help,” Duterte remarked.
When Filipinos started to get scared of coronavirus, Duterte called us “racists.” When Filipinos contracted the coronavirus, he called the Philippines a fucking country and continued to ship medical and food supplies.
It’s not a Duterte speech without a convoluted metaphor. This time it was persecution. “The so-called Roman empire. You have read the Inquisition? If you have a birthmark, you are a witch and you are burned at (the) stake,” he related. It put a big red flag on his announcement of the mass deployment of police and military personnel to implement a possible lockdown. Along with the new curfew, some are presuming that the COVID-19 outbreak is being used as an excuse for de facto Martial law.
Kailan pa naging nocturnal ang covid-19?
Check lang natin ah. ☑️ EO 70 and MO 32 (NTF-ELCAC) ☑️ HB 78 ☑️ Anti-Terrorism Bill ☑️ Proclamation No. 922 (class suspension, mass gatherings prohibition, curfew, etc)
Trump started his briefing with a sprinkle of narcissism. “When you compare what we’ve done with other areas of the world, it’s pretty incredible. A lot of that got to do with the early designation and the closing of the borders. As you know, Europe was designated as the hotspot of right now and we closed that border a while ago. So that was lucky. Or through talent. Or through luck.” He didn’t specify which countries he compared his administration’s late response to but it’s certainly not as impressive as the measures passed by South Korea or Italy.
He referred to COVID-19 as a “foreign virus” and not-so subtly blamed the outbreak on Chinese and European nationals. Speaking more like a tycoon than a national leader, he tried to assure big businesses that the pandemic is not a financial crisis and referred to the general public as consumers. There was no mention of right wing COVID-19 deniers. They printed out a small chart on coronavirus testing and called it a day. However, it seems the meme version is getting more traction.
On the other side of the pond, the British prime minister said the exact words you would not want to hear. Johnson called COVID-19 the “worst public health crisis for a generation” and added that “many more families are going to lose loved ones before their time.” Clearly, he should have been briefed before holding this briefing.
His statements also clashed. He declared that “the number of cases will rise sharply” and “the true number of cases is higher” than the number of cases so far confirmed. You would expect to hear swift action and strict policies to counter something made out to be so dire. Instead, he said that they’re still questioning banning major public events such as sports matches. The dissonance does the opposite of comfort.
Boris Johnson's remarks this evening hit me in the gut. He was basically saying "get ready for your parents, other relatives, friends and acquaintances to DIE." It's *personal*!
I look at what other countries are doing to slow the spread of the coronavirus and feel like crying.
These past few days showed us how we can’t simply rely on the government in times of distress. We have to remain critical and look out for each other. May this be a lesson for the next election season.