‘Sobrang nagkulang at nagkukulang pa rin’ Hontiveros refutes Duterte’s remarks over COVID-19 response

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 16)— Senator Risa Hontiveros on Friday disagreed with President Rodrigo Duterte’s remarks that the government did not fall short in its COVID-19 response, arguing that it has been sorely lacking.

In his public address on Thursday, Duterte defended the Philippines’ pandemic efforts, saying “Hindi tayo nagkulang (We did not fall short).”

But Hontiveros believes otherwise.

“Well I’m sorry, sobrang nagkulang at nagkukulang pa rin (it has been sorely lacking and we are still falling short),” Hontiveros told CNN Philippines’ The Source.

“I mean, the public simply wants to be able to feel that this government cares for us— and that is not coming through strongly, consistently, and effectively at all,” she added.

The senator, in particular, pointed to the continuous rise in COVID-19 cases and deaths in the country. She stressed the grim data and numbers “speak for themselves.”

“When you weigh his insistence na hindi sila nagkulang against the really sad and frightening numbers that keep climbing up— alam na natin kung alin ang totoo,” Hontiveros stressed.

[Translation: When you weigh his insistence that they did not fall short against the really sad and frightening numbers that keep climbing up — we already know the truth.]

COVID-19 cases in the Philippines breached the 900,000 mark on Thursday after the Health Department recorded another 11,429 new virus infections. Nationwide death toll meanwhile jumped to 15,594.

The country in the past few weeks has also been logging record-high numbers of new cases, which even climbed to over 15,000 on April 2.

While Hontiveros believes it is never too late for the country to pick up and improve on its response, she stressed that the government should really “step up.”

These include intensifying efforts on contact tracing, testing, and vaccination; providing timely aid to the poor and vulnerable, and giving protection to healthcare workers, she noted.

“Let’s do completely and well what we need to do,” Hontiveros said. “First, before stepping up, you have to show up. No more please of these hide and seek on the part of the president.”

RELATED: 'Sinadya ko 'yun': Duterte explains absence from public eye amid increasing COVID-19 infections

No need for drastic measures

Reacting to Duterte’s proposal for the military and police to take over hotels and use them as additional COVID-19 facilities, Hontiveros said there is no need for such drastic measure.

Hindi natin kakailanganin ‘yan kung sa simula pa lang— inaayos na natin ‘yung ating facilities,” the senator said.

[Translation: We won’t need that if, at the start, we already fixed our facilities.]

The lawmaker reiterated there is an allocated ₱9 billion budget under the Bayanihan 2 for makeshift hospitals and COVID-19 isolation facilities.