Malacañang on Tuesday refused to budge in its claim that the Philippines is winning its fight against the coronavirus disease pandemic even as the country became the nation with the second most coronavirus infections in Southeast Asia.
With 46,333 total COVID-19 cases, the Philippines has overtaken Singapore for the second spot for the most coronavirus cases in the region, preceding only to Indonesia’s 64,958.
But despite the surge in new cases, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, citing the country’s “low death rate” and its capacity to continue to provide hospital care, claimed that the Philippines is still winning against the contagion.
“I will always say, ‘We are winning against COVID-19’. Siguro po sa mga ayaw maniwalang nananalo tayo, sige po iyan po ang inyong personal na paninindigan, tanggapin niyo po iyon. Pero habang hindi po namamatay ang tao, habang meron tayong kapasidad na magbigay ng medical na lunas sa mga nagkakasakit hindi ko po matatanggap na tayo’y hindi nananalo sa sakit na ito,” Roque said in a televised Palace press briefing.
(To those who don’t believe that we are winning, then that’s your personal commitment and you should accept that. But while the patients are not dying, as we have the capacity to provide medical care to the sick, I cannot accept that we are not winning against this disease.)
“Pasensya na po dahil nakikita naman po natin ang datos. Hindi po tayo nag-iimbento ng datos,” he added.
(I’m sorry but the data is clear. We don’t invent data.)
The Department of Health (DOH) said it has observed an increase in infection in the past two weeks, which it attributed to the increased contact among the population as a result of the relaxation of quarantine measures.
The bulk of the new cases were recorded in Metro Manila, the country’s economic center, where movement restrictions have been eased for over a month now to restart the pandemic-hit economy.
But Roque reiterated that the increase in infections is “expected” in the absence of a vaccine and should not be a cause for alarm as long as Filipinos observe the minimum public health standards such as the wearing of face masks, physical distancing, and frequent handwashing.
“Karamihan po talaga ng active cases ay mild o asymptomatic. At ang binabantayan po natin ay ‘yung magkakasakit ng severe or critical at sinisiguro po natin na sapat ang kakayahan natin na bigyan sila ng lunas. ‘Yan po yung critical care capacity na sinasabi natin,” the Palace official said.
(Most of our active cases are mild or asymptomatic. And what we watch out for is those who are suffering from severe or critical illness and we make sure that we are capable enough to give them care. That’s the critical care capacity we are talking about.)
“So sa akin po, wala naman pong dahilan para mabahala kinakailangan lang po talaga ipatupad natin yung mga siguradong armas natin laban sa COVID-19.”
(So to me, there’s no reason to worry, we just have to put up our tested weapons against COVID-19.)
The Philippines topped Southeast Asia in terms of total COVID-19 cases some time in mid-April, when strict lockdown measures are still in place.
This prompted Roque to berate Filipinos for allegedly violating quarantine protocols.
“Mahiya naman po tayo. Hindi ko na po i-dedeny ‘yan dahil dapat tayong mga Pilipino mahiya dahil nagpapakita tayo ng kawalang disiplina e samantalang ginagawa naman po natin to dahil iniiwasan nating magkasakit ang ating mga kababayan,” Roque said in a Palace briefing on April 16.
(We should be ashamed. I’m not going to deny that because we Filipinos should be ashamed because we show lack of discipline despite the fact that we are doing everything to avoid the spread of the disease.)