If Philippine opposition leader Leni Robredo becomes president in 2022, the first economic policy she would pursue is to control the coronavirus pandemic.
This was how the economist-turned-vice president answered on Friday, October 8, when asked what economic policies of incumbent President Rodrigo Duterte she would continue or scrap if she ends up becoming his successor.
"Mayroon kasi tayong false dichotomy na health versus the economy – hindi ako naniniwala doon. Para sa akin, closely interconnected ang kalusugan at saka ang ekonomiya natin. Having said that, ang pinaka-unang economic policy natin, dapat mahinto ang pandemya," Robredo said.
(There is a false dichotomy now that it's health versus the economy – I don't believe in that. For me, our health and economy are closely interconnected. Having said that, our first economic policy would be to stop the pandemic.)
The Vice President gave a glimpse of what her 2022 platform would be as she faced reporters for the first time since she officially declared her presidential run as an independent bet on Thursday, October 7.
Robredo has been widely praised for running quick and effective COVID-19 relief drives despite having a low annual budget at the Office of the Vice President.
In a Rappler Talk interview in September, Robredo admitted that she has been so frustrated by Duterte's mismanagement of the pandemic that she was tempted to ask him to just let her handle the crisis instead.
For Robredo, pandemic control entails having stronger, swifter, and more streamlined systems for COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, treatment, and vaccination. The entire healthcare system should also be strengthened.
Robredo also discussed the need for a data-driven approach to revitalize the economy, address the education crisis, and provide ample social services to Filipinos badly hit by the pandemic.
"Ano ba iyong pinaka-basic? Test, trace, treat. Kapag sinabi natin na treat, pag-equip ng mga ospital, pag-asikaso sa ating mga health workers, vaccinate, ayuda, opportunities sa trabaho," Robredo said.
(What are the basic things we must do? Test, trace, treat. When we say treat, equipping hospitals, taking care of health workers, vaccination, subsidies, opportunities for work.)
The Vice President has long been criticizing Duterte for failing to curb COVID-19 infections in the country. Robredo's multiple suggestions to improve Duterte's pandemic programs often fall on deaf ears. – Rappler.com