Press Release
July 13, 2020

Dispatch from Crame No. 845:
Sen. Leila M. de Lima's statement on Roque's admission of failed early response to the pandemic

Recently, no less than Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque admitted, in a rare moment of clarity, how our belated response has led us to over 50,000 positive cases of COVID-19, good for 2nd in Southeast Asia. For once, I agree with him when he said "we could have done better" had we broadened our testing capacity as early as January when we recorded our first case of the virus.

Tama ka dyan Ginoong Roque. We had a headstart. But it was President Duterte and his infatuation with China along with DOH Secretary Duque's lack of foresight and indecisiveness that ultimately led us to where we are today. The Duterte administration choosing time and again to put foreign interests over the needs of the Filipino people is what sealed our fate.

Scientific and medical studies all reveal the critical role of mass testing and contact-tracing in order to stem the spread of the virus. But has this government been doing these? It has failed time and again to learn from the experiences and best practices of our neighboring countries who have been successful in keeping their numbers at manageable levels. Our data on testing rate would even reveal that we have left majority of the efforts to the private sector.

Pagod at gutom na ang mamamayang Pilipino, hanggang ngayon wala pa rin kayong konkretong solusyon. And it is because of one thing: this government's skewed sense of priority. You clamp down on quarantine violators who are only trying to earn a living, while you turn a blind eye on parties organized by the police force. You implement and enforce irrational and unfair policies without careful consideration of the realities on the ground. Instead of acting upon the crisis with solid scientific and medical basis, you look at it as if the enemy you have to vanquish is the very people you ought to protect.

I implore this government to be swift and transparent in their actions to fight the pandemic - before it becomes too late. Equip our health system, while protecting our frontliners. Resuscitate the economy without disregarding the right to life and safety of the people. Stop looking at this crisis as a mere game of statistics. The people who have fallen to the virus, those whose lives and livelihood are imperiled because of the government's failure to provide a timely and effective response deserve more than best effort. These extraordinary times demand exceptional measures that are well-thought of, and that should be felt soon.

Gumising na kayo! Anong petsa na?!

(Access the handwritten version of Dispatch from Crame No. 845, here:

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