Leni Robredo

Robredo: PH can beat pandemic like Asia Pacific neighbors, cites 5 steps

Mara Cepeda
Robredo: PH can beat pandemic like Asia Pacific neighbors, cites 5 steps

Vice President Leni Robredo suggests way to boost President Rodrigo Duterte's inadequate response to the COVID-19 pandemic on September 28, 2020. Screenshot from Robredo's Facebook page

'Malinaw sa akin kung ano ang nagtatahi sa kanila: Naniwala sila sa datos, sa agham, at sa mga eksperto... mabilis at coordinated ang kilos ng gobyerno nila,' says Vice President Leni Robredo

Vice President Leni Robredo believes the Philippines is capable of beating the coronavirus pandemic like its Asia Pacific neighbors – if the government acts fast and anchors its response on data. 

On Monday, September 28, Robredo once again faced the nation through a video streamed on Facebook to give recommendations on how government should address the pandemic.

The Vice President cited the study made by independent medical journal The Lancet, which ranked the Philippines 66th out of 91 countries in terms of COVID-19 suppression. 

In contrast, the same study showed 19 countries have “successfully suppressed” the virus, 10 of which are in Asia Pacific. They are Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, China, Myanmar, Malaysia, New Zealand, Uganda, Togo, Pakistan, Latvia, Luxembourg, Uruguay, South Korea, Finland, Cuba, and Rwanda.

Robredo said it is not too late for the Philippines to beat COVID-19, too.

“Nagtagumpay laban sa virus ang labingsiyam na bansa, kabilang na ang 10 sa ating mga kapitbahay, kahit wala pang gamot, at kahit wala pang bakuna. Humaharap ako sa inyo ngayon dahil naniniwala akong kaya din natin ito,” Robredo said. (These 19 nations gained success against the virus, including 10 of our neighbors, even without a cure, and even without a vaccine. I speak to you today because of my faith that we can achieve this as well.)

She said the Philippines can emulate the best practices of its Asia Pacific neighbors.

“Malinaw sa akin kung ano ang nagtatahi sa kanila: Naniwala sila sa datos, sa agham, at sa mga eksperto; naging bukas sila sa kaalaman at mga kaisipan, saan man ito magmula; nagplano sila nang maigi; mabilis at coordinated ang kilos ng gobyerno nila,” the Vice President said. (The similarities that weave them together are clear to us: They believe in data, science, and experts; they are open to knowledge and ideas wherever these may come from; they planned properly; their governments acted quickly and in a coordinated manner.)

“Naging tapat sila sa pakikitungo sa kanilang mamamayan. Isinantabi nila ang politika. Nakipagtulungan sila,” she added. (They were honest and straightforward in dealing with their citizens. They set aside politics. They cooperated and helped each other.)

She then outlined her suggestion to make this possible – from strengthening job matching platforms to help Filipinos look for new sources of income, to setting up the needed systems so that even residents from remote areas would be able to gain access to the COVId-19 vaccine once available.

Planning ahead

Robredo suggested 5 ways to help address the pandemic: 

  • Set clear and specific goals like targeting to achieve a positivity rate below 5% and a virus reproduction rate not exceeding 1 by end-October
  • Provide additional support to local government units (LGUs)
  • Provide more assistance to micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) badly hit by the pandemic
  • Help jobless Filipinos look for new opportunities through platforms that match job vacancies with their skill sets
  • Prepare for a massive deployment of the COVID-19 vaccine once available

Robredo said the Duterte government should already set up the necessary mechanisms that would ensure all barangay health units would be able to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to Filipinos.

The Vice President also said the P2.5 billion for vaccine procurement under the proposed P4.5-trillion budget for 2021 is not enough. 

“Ayon sa DOH, sapat lamang ito para sa 3.8 milyong katao. Paano na lang iyong naiwang halos isang daang million? Ngayon pa lang, kailangan nang tutukan at paghandaan ang mga pangangailangang pinansyal at iba pa para sa bakuna,” Robredo said. 

(According to the DOH, this will only be enough for 3.8 million people. What about the rest of the 100 million? As early as now, we need to focus and prepare for the financial and other needs for the vaccine.)

The Vice President then suggested the government to promote credit mediation services to make it easier for MSMEs to get back on their feet.

For Filipinos left jobless by the pandemic, Robredo suggested organizing their socio-economic profile, which can then be used by the government to help match applicants to jobs that suit their skills. 

The Vice President cited initiatives her office had already launched the past weeks: the job matching platform Sikap.PH and Iskaparate.com, where products of small business owners are promoted.

It took the Vice President only 16 minutes to explain her proposals – something Robredo has consistently done since the COVID-19 crisis rocked the country. 

President Rodrigo Duterte is scheduled to make his weekly public address on Monday evening.

The Vice President said her office is only too willing to share what they have learned – as long as the Duterte government is open to it. 

“Lahat ito, malinaw na ang konsepto, at napatunayan nang gumagana. May template na, may technology, at may mga proseso nang puwedeng sundan. Handa kaming ibahagi ang lahat ng kaalamang mayroon kami ukol sa mga proyektong ito,” Robredo said. 

(All these already have clear proofs of concept. We have templates, technologies, and processes that can be followed. We are ready to share all the knowledge we have on these projects.)

“Kung handa tayong makinig sa iba’t ibang mungkahi, at kung magiging bukas tayo sa iba’t ibang ideya, tiyak ko, marami pang maipapatupad na polisiya at programa na makakabuti sa lahat,” she added.

(If we are ready to listen to many different suggestions and if we are open to many different ideas, I am confident that we can carry out more policies and programs that will benefit us all.)

Duterte, however, already dismissed Robredo’s suggestions in the past, accusing her of fueling public anger.

Robredo then stood her ground and said it is her duty as a Filipino to call out the government’s lapses. – Rappler.com

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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 mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.