Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who failed to keep COVID-19 transmissions at bay despite a harsh lockdown, admitted he is struggling to manage the pandemic.
So arduous is the task of bringing vaccines to the country, he said, that he is near tears.
“Gusto ko na nga umiyak sa harap ninyo pero naubos na ang luha ko,” said Duterte on Monday, March 29, during his weekly public address about the health crisis.
(I want to cry in front of you but I have no more tears.)
“Hay, buhay. Kung alam lang ninyo. Para akong dumadaan ng purgatoryo ngayon, at this time,” he added.
(Oh, life. If you only knew. It’s like I’m passing through purgatory, at this time.)
As he was about to read the new quarantine measures for April, Duterte commented that the restrictions were similar to the first pandemic lockdowns declared a year ago.
“Halos back to zero tayo dito (We are practically back to zero),” he admitted.
The line departed from even that of his own spokesman. Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque, last March 16, insisted the country was “not back to square one.”
Having a hard time
In the same public address, Duterte ordered the government to allow the private sector to quickly bring in their own vaccines amid a government vaccination drive slammed by some as too slow.
He also promised to immediately approve a proposal to distribute in-kind aid to low-income individuals and families affected by the one-week enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila and nearby regions.
The new lockdown is a bid to arrest the steep increase in COVID-19 cases in these areas.
“I’m having a hard time. I’m grappling with this issue of COVID. It takes most of my time actually. More than any other papers, it takes most of my time looking for ways, where we can get [a vaccine],” said Duterte.
If he had a “magic wand” to “take out this problem,” he would wave it, said the Chief Executive.
Another side of Duterte was on display Monday night. The President usually devotes his weekly speeches to lashing out against critics or making violent threats against pandemic rule violators.
This time, he asked for “patience” from the public.
“Stretch your patience and understanding; we’re doing our best. We are not a vaccine -producing country; we have no expertise, medical, scientific knowledge. So we’re waiting,” said Duterte.
The fresh wave of infections threatens to further slow down the Philippines’ economic recovery, at a time when it was already projected to recover the slowest among its Southeast Asian peers. – Rappler.com