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Roque defends Duterte's 'maliit na bagay' statement, says president is not belittling the pandemic

By Bim Santos Published Mar 16, 2021 4:01 am

Contrary to what President Rodrigo Duterte said yesterday in a televised briefing, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the chief executive is not belittling the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Ang sinasabi ng Presidente, temporary lang yan. Hindi po yan forever,” Roque said in a palace briefing today, March 16. “Lilipas din po ‘yan, at pagdating ng bakuna magkakaroon tayo ng solusyon sa ating problema.”

Duterte yesterday described the COVID-19 pandemic as a “small thing.”

“Do not despair. Kaya natin itong COVID na ito. Maliit na bagay ito sa buhay natin. Marami tayong dinaanan na mas grabe, mas mahirap,” Duterte said during his weekly address.

Duterte made the remark as the country experiences a surge in the number of COVID-19 infections, which has hit a seven-month high of 5,404 new cases yesterday.

“Hindi minamaliit ng presidente ang ating paghihirap. Pero ang sinasabi po niya, babangon po tayo at we will heal as one,” said Roque.

Roque has tested positive for COVID-19 and said he will still perform his role in isolation as he experiences no symptoms.

The government’s vaccination campaign for frontline workers, which started this month, is ongoing off the 600,000 doses of Sinovac vaccines and 525,600 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines. Roque said that there are now over 200,000 health workers that have been vaccinated as of press time.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said he has also signed a supply agreement with US drugmaker Novavax for 30 million doses of its vaccines, slated to arrive by the second half of the year.

For this month, Galvez said they are expecting 400,000 additional doses of donated Sinovac vaccines and one million Sinovac vaccine doses separately procured by the Department of Health.

(Thumbnail and banner photo from The STAR/Miguel de Guzman)