MANILA, Philippines — One presidential hopeful believes the Philippine government should have done more to take urgent action against COVID-19 before it was a pandemic, while another says the country should have focused on mass vaccination efforts to end repeated lockdowns impede.
“The government has done many good things to respond to the pandemic, but the main problem was that there was no sense of urgency. There are many problems that could have been prevented if the government had acted more quickly,” the vice president told Leni Robredo in Tagalog in an interview on The Jessica Soho Presidential Interviews.
In her opinion, the country did not act quickly when COVID-19 was still considered an epidemic in other countries.
“We already knew we had to close our borders. But it seemed like it took so long to make that decision,” Robredo said.
She is running in this year’s elections as an independent candidate, along with her running mate Kiko Pangilinan, who is from the Liberal Party.
Their statements come about a month after Bloomberg news agency reported that the Philippines ranked 50th in terms of global COVID-19 resilience out of 53 countries with the largest economies.
For Manny Pacquiao, the flag-bearer of Cebu-based Abag Promdi, the government should have prioritized mass vaccination efforts early in the pandemic.
“Had we focused on vaccinating the Filipino people from the start, we wouldn’t have had these lockdowns that have resulted in business closures and job losses,” the retired boxer said.
On the other hand, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno said that while securing access to the life-saving vaccines was difficult, local government entities were able to “deploy them immediately,” citing his city’s case, who exceeded their vaccination goal by more than twice.
“There are many things that need to be adjusted – the cash aid (ayuda) distribution, which should have been more efficient,” he said.
Moreno is the presidential bet of the Aksyon Demokratiko party.
Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson said the government should have increased spending on cash subsidies, but this has been hampered by bureaucracy.
“What was prioritized? Wasn’t it the bureaucracy? And then [the ayuda] does not arrive and then corruption is still involved? I’m mad at the corruption that’s happening during the pandemic,” said the Partido Reporma flag-bearer in Tagalog.
“The people who are supposed to benefit are already sick and you are stealing money that has been set aside for them. This is unforgivable,” he said.
Partido Federal ng Pilipina’s Wager Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. was invited to share his insights in Soho’s “Presidential Interviews” but chose not to appear on the show, believing that the multi-award-winning veteran journalist ” biased” be against the Marcoses.”
24 Oras previously reported that the program extended the invitation to the five presidential candidates who led the polls.
GMA network, however, said it was “regrettable” that Marcos declined the invitation while Lacson, Moreno, Pacquiao and Robredo attended the interviews.