President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday assured the public that the Philippines could defeat the threat posed by the deadly novel coronavirus.
Duterte made the assurance after he praised the Department of Health led by Secretary Francisco Duque III for its “prompt and efficient response” as well as allaying public fears over the virus.
“We can defeat this virus,” Duterte told local government executives in Pasay City.
“The national government remains to be on top of the threat of the coronavirus. We are prepared to handle this public health emergency in case the worst scenario happens.”
Duterte quipped that he wanted to slap the virus, which is invisible to the naked eye.
“P— inang idioto na corona ito. Hinahanap ko gusto ko sampalin ang gago,” Duterte said, adding Filipino doctors and researchers should develop a vaccine.
Duterte said the government was ready to repatriate Filipinos abroad and deploy the military to ensure order and obedience of the people in case of a pandemic or global spread of the new disease.
“Kung nagkakamatayan na talaga, at ang mga Pilipino doon pinagtutulak na, whether you like it or not, I will bring them home. I will bring them home because they have no other country to seek shelter,” Duterte said.
Duterte urged local chief executives to take “urgent steps” in preventing the spread of the disease and giving immediate care for those who have been afflicted.
He also asked them to be “more proactive” in the management of cases, contact tracing and information dissemination.
The President, meanwhile, took a swipe at critics of the government’s response to the novel coronavirus outbreak.
“There are some kibitzers in politics, idiots if you may, na pagputok nito they are asking: What is the government of the Republic of the Philippines doing? All pessimistic,” he said.
“All na gusto lang talagang magkaroon ng takot.”
He then vouched for Duque’s experience and expertise.
“He will be as good as any other expert. Matagal na ‘yan siya sa gobyerno. And I’m sure as a doctor and one who has astounded several conferences abroad and local, he has the working knowledge on how to cope up,” Duterte said.
Duque recently earned the ire senators who complained about the Cabinet member’s handling of the novel coronavirus cases in the country.
This came after it was revealed during the Senate hearing on the matter on February 4 that only 17 percent of the 331 plane passengers who had traveled with the infected Chinese couple had been tracked by authorities.
“Mga kalaban lang nila ‘yan sa politika. But he is the most seasoned Cabinet member diyan. Maniwala ka. Matagal na, ilang presidente ‘yan siya eh,” Duterte said.
The number of confirmed novel coronavirus cases in the Philippines remained at three as of Monday noon, including one fatality. —NB, GMA News