Vice President Leni Robredo exploits any situation just to get free publicity, much like her political ally, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman.
Even before the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 medical crisis a pandemic, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte had already directed several line departments, including the Philippine National Police, to prepare contingency measures to prevent the spread of the dreaded disease.
When the crisis was getting serious, Robredo got herself interviewed on television and urged medical and health facilities to attend to possible carriers of the disease.
Robredo’s statement sounded good, but it was useless, populist rhetoric designed to give the general public the misleading impression that she is actively participating in the fight against COVID-19. That’s because even without her statement, the medical and health facilities of both the government and the private sector were already dutifully attending to patients who may be carriers of the disease, or are already afflicted with it.
She sounded like she was criticizing the government for what she perceived was the lack of sufficient medical attention for people who had symptoms of the virus and were seeking medical treatment.
Robredo conveniently forgot that the COVID-19 is a pandemic of unexpected and unprecedented proportions, and that because the virus itself is new, the international medical community is baffled on how to cure it.
She also failed to realize that many of the patients who tested positive for the virus were asymptomatic (had no manifest signs of the disease) for the past three weeks, which made it difficult for health professionals to monitor the virus.
Since these are extraordinarily trying times, health facilities cannot be expected to accommodate everybody immediately. That is why health officials are urging people with mild symptoms of COVID-19 to pursue home quarantine in the meantime, in order to allow patients already afflicted with the virus to get priority attention.
Has Robredo even bothered to visit the emergency rooms of all the public hospitals in Metro Manila? She probably hasn’t, to avoid contracting the disease. If she made visits, she will realize that her criticism is unfair.
Robredo should blame her perceived lack of enough medical facilities in the nation’s capital right now on her political patron in the Liberal Party, ex-President Benigno Aquino III, who failed to put up additional hospitals during his six-year term.
It seems that despite the national health emergency in the country, Robredo still finds time for politics.
Speaking in her usual broken English during her radio program last week, Robredo criticized the quarantine, and the curfew that goes with it, imposed by President Duterte first in the metropolis and eventually, the entire Luzon. She said that the quarantine and the curfew will adversely affect those in the informal economy such as pedicab drivers and small-scale vendors who work during late hours.
In an obvious attempt to project herself as an ally of the masses, Robredo said, “We have to focus on how we can ensure that the poor are also protected from the virus.”
Doesn’t the Vice President know that the quarantine and the curfew are extraordinary measures demanded by the national health emergency, and like in all national health emergencies the world over, industry must, in the meanwhile, give way to public health considerations?
The first thing that must be done is to protect the people, especially the poor, from contracting the COVID-19 virus, and that is precisely the reason why President Duterte has resorted to the quarantine and curfew.
It is also unfair for Robredo to suggest that President Duterte does not care about Filipinos in the informal economy of the nation. The President has already announced that local government units are empowered to use their calamity funds to address the economic concerns of needy Filipinos whose sources of livelihood have been adversely affected by the drastic measures taken by the government to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
By engaging in self-serving, self-promoting politics when the nation is facing a health crisis, Robredo is confirming that, like the overambitious Sen. Grace Poe, she is really unfit to run the country.