Robredo appeals: Work from home, protect the vulnerable

Mara Cepeda

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Robredo appeals: Work from home, protect the vulnerable
Vice President Leni Robredo addresses the public ahead of President Rodrigo Duterte to help allay fears over the novel coronavirus outbreak

MANILA, Philippines – In a Facebook video at past 6 pm on Thursday, March 12, Vice President Leni Robredo urged companies to begin implementing a work-from-home scheme for its employees now that the novel coronavirus outbreak has turned into a pandemic. 

She also asked the Duterte administration to prioritize protecting the country’s most vulnerable sectors.

“Sinabi na ng World Health Organization: May mga katangian ng isang pandemic ang pandaigdigang situwasyon. Ibig sabihin, kumalat na ang virus sa iba’t ibang bansa. Sa pagkakataong ito, kailangan kong idiin: Panahon nang ipatupad ang areglong work-from-home,” Robredo said in a public address ahead of President Rodrigo Duterte’s scheduled coronavirus-related announcement also on Thursday.

(This is what the World Health Organization said: The circumstance of the global situation point to a pandemic. That means the virus already spread to different countries. I want to emphasize now: It’s time we implement a work-from-home scheme.)

The Vice President said companies could instead have a skeletal workforce to keep vital operations ongoing. Otherwise, there’s no reason to put their employees’ lives at risk. 

“Walang dahilan na maibilad pa sa peligro ang sino man, lalo pa’t may dalang dagdag na panganib para sa lahat ang bawat bagong makakasagap ng sakit na ito,” Robredo said. (There is no reason to risk the lives of anyone, especially now that there is an added risk because of this new disease.)

The Vice President released the video to help allay the public’s fear over the growing number of 2019-nCoV cases in the Philippines. She addressed the public ahead of President Rodrigo Duterte’s scheduled announcement on the COVID-19 situation on Thursday evening.

So far, a total of 52 patients tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by 2019-nCoV. Two cases already died.  

‘Protect the vulnerable’ 

Robredo called on the Duterte government to follow a “protect the vulnerable” mindset during the health crisis.

She said the administration should ensure that poor Filipinos will have easy access to government hospitals should they begin to show symptoms of COVID-19. If the government decides to impose any lockdown, then there must be enough supplies available for the poor as well.

“Isadiwa natin ang layuning ‘protect the vulnerable.’ Gaya ng lagi, ang mga mahihirap ang pinakaapektado sa mga ganitong pagkakataon. Siguruhin natin na angkop ang pansin at pagpapahalagang maipapaabot sa kanila,” Robredo said.  

(May we follow a policy of ‘protect the vulnerable.’ As always, the poor will be the most affected in times like this. Let us make sure we give them the response due to them.) 

The Vice President advised the public to stop panic-buying and refrain from trooping to hospitals if they are not exhibiting severe symptoms of the disease.  

“Iisang komunidad tayo. Walang paraang malagpasan ito kundi ang isaisip ang kapakanan ng lahat (We are one community. There is no other way to get through but to think about everyone’s welfare),” said the Vice Preident. 

Robredo previously called on the Duterte administration to be “very transparent” in its response to the COVID-19 outbreak, as doing so would help dispel speculations of alleged “underreporting” of positive cases.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III admitted that “problems” in their reporting system led to the delayed disclosure of 2019-nCoV patients’ details. –

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at or tweet @maracepeda.