During quarantine, we have witnessed how national officials have seemed to dismiss public concerns and advice from a number of professionals on the implementation of COVID-19 policies and several other issues such as the Anti-Terror Law and the ABS-CBN franchise renewal. So really, it wasn’t that much of a surprise when presidential spokesperson Harry Roque called Vice President Leni Robredo’s COVID-19 response and aid measure recommendations “nothing new” in a July 16 interview.
Today, VP Robredo released the eight-page “private” letter containing the yet to be implemented suggestions which she sent to Roque on June 30 “in good faith.”
She noted in the letter that while the Department of Health (DOH) has been updating their website on our current COVID-19 statistics, “there are important points that are unavailable and inconsistencies that affect the integrity of the data.” She listed down several queries on various government pandemic reports that she says could dispel confusion and allegations of corruption when answered. She suggested the creation of a single repository of data for the monitoring of budget utilization and loan agreements.
READ: Vice President Leni Robredo's letter to Palace spokesperson Harry Roque dated June 30 on details and suggestions to improve the government's #COVID19 response. (1/2) pic.twitter.com/ttov0pMUoK
She also raised that current social distancing policies weren’t created with a people-oriented lens and suggested that “policies should only be announced after a consensus had already been built among agencies; guidelines should be completed, and scenarios around them built.” She noted the suspension of travel for locally stranded individuals highlighted the need for this. You might remember how Roque said in a June interview how he wished VP Robredo “actually offered solutions” for this issue despite her office already offering free shuttle rides of LSIs at the time.
VP Robredo said in the latest episode of her weekly radio show “BISErbisyong LENI” that she requested the government to publish an “epidemic curve.” While this has yet to be done, her office has started to share this data provided by the University of the Philippines (UP) COVID-19 Response Team and based on figures provided by the DOH.
“Hindi ko alam kung bakit hindi pinapublish iyong epidemic curve, kasi lahat naman ng bansa, ito iyong pinapublish kasi ito iyong basehan kung nafa-flatten ba iyong curve, kung tama ba iyong ginagawa natin. Kasi kung hindi ito nafa-flatten, gustong sabihin may mali tayong ginagawa,” she said.
The vice president stated in a June interview with ANC when asked about plans of extending President Rodrigo Duterte’s special powers, “Before we even talk of more special powers, yung pinaka-kailangan siguro is to render a complete report. To render a complete report of what happened in the last few months when the special powers were there.”
Roque when asked what his response to the VP would be said, “My answer today would be, thank you very much, IATF [ Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases] has long recommended almost, well, in fact, all of your suggestions.” So why haven’t they been implemented?