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Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Duterte Administration’s Unclear COVID-19 Response

Controversy under the Duterte administration in the COVID-19 pandemic

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PHILIPPINES. Manila. The Duterte administration priorities are unclear in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the government pushes for the build-build program in response to COVID-19, Vice President Leni Robredo is concerned with a lack of direction.

Disregard of nature

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) spends ₱28 Million to rehabilitate Manila Bay as a white sand beach. Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año invites the public to enjoy this beach once it is complete. “See if it is harmful,” he said.

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However, they neglect the actual issue of Manila Bay is tons of pollution. Hence, the project harms the natural environment according to the fishing communities, ocean scientists, and environmental advocates. Likewise, the DENR violates its laws to protect the environment. Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque defends the project a distraction from the crisis in a CNN Philippines report.

In the same way, the DENR approved the Chinese funded project to build a dam on the Kaliwa River watershed, misplacing the indigenous community protected by law.

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Vice President Leni Robredo commented that the money spent on the white sand of Manila Bay is enough to feed 80 thousand families.

The burden of debt

The Duterte administration placed the country in total debt of ₱8.6 trillion ($172,637,518,000). But this burdens the Filipino taxpayers, not to mention the $26.7 billion debt of President Marcos to be paid until 2025.

A vendor sets up his store in Davao on 12 Sep 2020. Photo credit: PonD News Asia/Bjorn Lleven Rodriguez
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There has been a closure of businesses at 26% during the COVID-19 pandemic, including, the local fast-food giant Jollibee that closed 255 stores.

Unclear priorities

The Philippines ranked above Indonesia as the COVID-19 cases spiked to 269,407 on 15 Sep 2020. Whereas WHO reminds governments to improve their response to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and not wait for a vaccine.

The only clear plan is to follow WHO advice to protect oneself when outside. Healthcare workers are overwhelmed with a high number of COVID-19 cases with no support from the government. Working with a wage near ₱32,000 ($661.67), which they can earn four times outside the Philippines. Instead of help, they get a threat from President Duterte.

Also, the health care system of the Philippines faces corruption. The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth) released funds to hospitals with the absence of COVID-19 cases. Therefore, the senate and citizens ask for the resignation of the Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco T. Duque III on the corruption of Philhealth. His failure to act immediately to the first COVID-19 case in January did not lead President Duterte’s ousting of Secretary Duque.

Filipinos are on their own, even if the COVID-19 test kits are available locally. Mass testing is the key to isolate the infected person until it clears them of COVID-19. And the mass testing of the Philippine National Police (PNP) proves its importance to deal with the pandemic.

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