Philippines Report

Roque defends by controversial ‘congratulations’ remark, says he will make them every month

Harry Roque

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on Wednesday defended his controversial remarks about “beating” the University of the Philippines' COVID-19 case forecast for the month of June.

“I don't care about the critics. I'll keep doing it every month because people should be reminded that although UP forecasts are mathematical models, we can still control the situation,” the presidential spokesperson told CNN Philippines on Wednesday.

This comes after he was widely criticized by netizens, a celebrity and the leader of a militant group for a comment he made during Tuesday's Palace briefing.

“We beat the UP prediction po. We beat it. So congratulations, Philippines!” Roque exclaimed after he realized that it was, in fact, the last day of June and the number of confirmed cases stood a few thousand less than the number predicted by UP researchers.

Roque also claimed that the backlog was only at about a 1,000 more tests but the health department has not released any data to substantiate his claims.

Many took issue with the presidential spokesperson's tone and gestures as he went so far as to pump his fist in the air in celebration.

BAYAN secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. on Tuesday fired back at Roque, saying: “No, Harry. We did not win squat.”

“The self-congratulations is grossly misinformed and intellectually dishonest,” Reyes added.

UP researchers in a study estimated that the country would have around 40,000 cases of novel coronavirus by the end of June. The Philippines logged 37,514 cases on June 30 but is still working through a backlog of tests.

Roque on Wednesday said that National Task Force against COVID-19 Deputy Chief Implementer and testing czar Vince Dizon confirmed to him that there were about 1,000 backlogged tests remaining.

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