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As if Philippines has no leader amid COVID-19, says Robredo

Vice President Leni Robredo on Monday night accused the Duterte administration of having no clear direction as the country grapples with the impact on Filipinos of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a 20-minute speech, Robredo also raised the issue of confidence amid the national health emergency as the government officials faced allegations of corruption from overpriced PPEs to billions of pesos in questionable cash advances to hospitals.

“Let me emphasize: Confidence keeps the economy rolling. And the truth is, even before the pandemic, our economy could not reach its full potential because of lack of confidence.  . . .This is why, especially now that we are grappling with a pandemic, the last thing that we need is even more instances that erode confidence,” she said.

“How can there be confidence when we are unsure of where funds are going? How can there be confidence when every time the leadership holds a press conference, clarity is in short supply? Clearly, the people are willing to man the oars; what we need is someone to point us towards the proper direction. Someone to steer the ship of state,” she added.

The Vice President stressed: “Many hold a sentiment that is not difficult to understand: It’s as if no one is at the helm, no direction, no clear horizon as to when and how this pandemic will be addressed.”

“It’s as if we’ve been handed a bit of assistance, then left to fend for ourselves, locked in our homes, living in fear. As if we should shoulder the blame of infections and death, for being too undisciplined, as we have been called. As if we have nothing to expect from our leaders—or there are no leaders at all. As if we have been left to fend for ourselves,” she said.


Report and recommendations

Robredo issued the message after meeting with researchers, analysts, professors, and other experts on the economy over the past weeks on how the country can cope with the backlash of the health crisis that has left millions jobless and hungry.

On Monday, the House of Representatives also ratified the Bayanihan to Recover as One bill, which infuses fresh P165 billion in the fight against the pandemic.  The bill will be transmitted to Malacañang for the President's signature.

The Vice President said the funds appropriated under the bill were not enough and that government should spend more to help the people get back on their feet.  

"Only the government can extend a lifeline to the economy; only government has the resources and machinery to do things at a significant enough scale," Robredo said.

"The provisions indicated and the funds allocated under Bayanihan 2 are not enough. The government must spend more, spend efficiently, and spend quickly, with the utmost sense of urgency, as if our economic survival depends on it – because it does. And yet, here we are, still dependent on a pre-COVID budget," she added.

Robredo put forward 10 recommendations dealing with the health crisis, the economy, education, poverty and employment.—NB/LDF, GMA News