Robredo urges Filipinos to respect Chinese amid coronavirus spread

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo on Sunday, February 2, urged the public not to resort to discrimination against Chinese in the Philippines amid fears over the global spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus .

Robredo said doing so would be "wrong" as it was akin to subjecting Chinese nationals , who likewise suffered from the virus, to further difficulty while already being on the frontlines of the infection.

Robredo sought to remind Filipinos that Chinese were not at fault for the emergence of the disease and that the public should focus on battling the virus rather than discriminating against others.

"Lahat naman ginagawa para mahanapan ng lunas iyong sakit na ito. Pero ang pakiusap lang po natin...huwag namang huhusgahan iyong lahat na mga...Chinese citizens, iyong lahat na mga bumibisita dito sa atin. Iyong sa atin po, tama na nag-iingat tayo, tama na temporarily suspended iyong mga flights. Pero ito po, walang iisang may kasalanan tayo, kaya tayo, magtulungan" Robredo said.

(We're doing everything necessary to find a cure for this disease. What we're asking is do not judge all Chinese citizens in the Philippines. It's okay to be cautious, it is good were being careful, it is right that flights have been temporarily suspended. But this (virus) is not any one person's fault so we should help one another.)

"Hindi po nakakatulong iyong pagbabatikos, hindi po nakakatulong iyong paghuhusga sa iba pang mga nakakasalamuha natin, kasi pare-pareho lang naman po tayo," she added. (READ: Racism more dangerous than novel coronavirus – FilChi business group)

(It does not help to ridicule and judge others who we encounter because we're all the same.)

Robredo's reaction to government measures: Meanwhile, the Vice President said the Duterte administration's ban on travelers coming directly from China, Hong Kong, and Macau was a "welcome development," though she lamented restrictions should have been taken sooner.

Robredo likewise downplayed calls for her to lead the country as she urged the Duterte government to take swift precautions against the spread of the coronavirus in the Philippines.

Robredo was referring to a Twitter poll where respondents said they wanted her to lead the country following dissatisfaction over the government's current handling of the situation.

"Iyong solusyon hindi naman ganoon. Pero ang solusyon, mas maging swift lang sana, mas maging aggressive iyong response ng gobyerno, kasi natatakot iyong tao, eh.... Hindi naman natin sinasabi na walang ginagawa, pero hanggang kasi hindi alam ng tao kung ano iyong ginagawa, iyong takot nandoon, eh," Robredo said.

(That's not the solution. The solution is to act swiftly and aggressively because the public is worried.... We're not saying the government isn't doing anything but until Filipinos know what is being done, the fear is there.)

Robredo urged President Rodrigo Duterte to publicly address the Filipino people when making statements, saying the public was only looking for assurances the government was taking all necessary steps to protect them.

"Alam natin na very popular si Pangulo, na kapag siya iyong mag-assure sa mga kababayan natin na lahat ginagawa ng pamahalaan, tingin ko hindi ganoon kagrabe iyong takot, eh," Robredo said.

(We all know the President is very popular so if he assures our countrymen that the government is doing everything it can, I don't think people will be as scared.)

The latest in the Philippines. Health officials on Sunday confirmed the second case of coronavirus in the country.

The patient, who already died, was said the be the companion of the Philippines' first confirmed case, according to health authorities. Both patients travelled to the Philippines from Wuhan, China.

The patient's death marks the first confirmed death outside of China due to the coronavirus. The WHO stressed, though, the case was not a "locally-acquired" as the fatality came from Wuhan.

Robredo reminded the public to practice proper personal hygiene and urged Filipinos to stay calm amid the spread of the coronavirus. 

As of early morning Sunday, February 2, the virus has killed 304 people and infected over 14,000 people worldwide. – Rappler.com

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Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs, the overseas Filipino workers, and elections. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.

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