President Rodrigo Duterte said he needed a COVID-19 vaccine against the coronavirus that caused the global pandemic before he could lay down the roadmap for the country’s recovery from the national health crisis.
He was reacting to criticisms that he did not spell out clear plans to deal with the pandemic in his State of the Nation Address on Monday.
“I could not have uttered a single sentence about roadmap to recovery because the medicine must come first,” the President said.
He spoke during his meeting with some members of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases on Thursday, which was broadcast on government television on Friday morning.
Opposition Sen. Risa Hontiveros said Mr. Duterte “uttered the same incoherent statements that did not present a health and economic roadmap that could lead us through this pandemic.”
Renato Reyes, Bayan secretary general, said in a statement that the President’s response to the pandemic was “primarily to wait for a vaccine from China.”
Mr. Duterte promised a “normal” life for Filipinos as early as December but only if the government gets its hands on the vaccines.
He urged Filipinos to be more patient as the vaccines were on their way.
“I promise you, by the grace of God, I hope by December, we would be back to normal. Not the new normal, new normal. I said even at the beginning, let’s just wait for the vaccine,” he said.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the Philippines could fully reopen the economy and “start the normal life” once a vaccine became available.
“The economy actually is already beginning to recover. Our estimate is that we hit already the lowest part of the economy in April, or May,” he told the President. “Actually, it’s already starting to pick up already now.”