Malacañang denied that President Rodrigo Duterte downplayed COVID-19 back in February.
Duterte’s spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the actions of the President were dependent on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) pronouncements and developments regarding coronavirus spread.
“Depende kasi sa sitwasyon. Kaya si Presidente noon sumusunod lamang siya sa takbo ng patakaran ng World Health Organization at sa mga nakikita niya sa kanyang paligiran,” Panelo said in a televised briefing.
“Noong sinabi niya po yun ay dadalawa pa lang ang namamatay sa atin kaya ayaw niya po na lumikha ng masyadong anxiety o pagkatakot ang ating mga kababayan kaya sinabi niya yun.”
Spoke too soon?
The decision on community quarantine was way too late because back in December until early January when the Philippines had zero cases among other Asia countries, people protested and urged him to implement a travel ban to and from China to make sure that we don’t get the virus. Still, he said there is no need to.
Duterte claimed on Monday (April 6, 2020) that he warned the public back in February about the virus. He even said that the people shouldn’t be ‘hysterical’ about the disease.
At the time, the President said that if a person suspects that he/she contracted the disease, one simply needed to be checked at a hospital.
He also said back then that he would continue to shake hands despite the presence of COVID-19. Still, the Presidential Security Group (PSG) announced later the ‘no-touch policy’.
Now, the Philippines has surpassed the 4000th mark of COVID-19 cases. Spoke too soon, Mr. President?