News Release

Science-based response to fight COVID-19 – Palace

Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque Jr. on Monday, June 22, said that the government’s strategy in fighting the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) has always been anchored on science and hard data in response to criticism that the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) used fear factor to combat the pandemic.

“Hindi po takot ang ginamit. Siyensiya po. Mga datos na nagligtas ng libo-libong buhay,” said Secretary Roque.

The Palace spokesperson then cited the World Bank, whose officials were met by Department of Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, commending the Chief Executive for his decisiveness adding that some 99,000 lives were probably saved because of early government action, particularly the implementation of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

As of June 21, the Philippines has only registered some 1,000 COVID-19-related deaths.

The Palace official further said that had the government not stepped up early on, hundreds of thousands would have been dead because of the disease, as what is happening in other countries now.

On the presence of military officials in the IATF, Secretary Roque said the Administration is only utilizing their skills and experience. “Ginagamit lang po natin yung kakayahan at saka karanasan ng ating mga military official para po iparating nga yung public health solution sa lalong mabilis na panahon sa ating mga kababayan”

The concurrent IATF Spokesperson then enumerated the government’s public health measures communicated to the public to prevent the spread of the contagion, which include asking the citizens to maintain social distancing, to observe proper hygiene, to stay as homeliners, among others.

For those who continue to question the government’s strategy to implement ECQ in March, saying that it is militaristic and has impacted negatively especially on the country’s economy, Sec. Roque said that the Palace respects such opinion.

However, Secretary Roque cited other researches that say otherwise. He mentioned the result of the Singapore-based Toluna-Blackbox Index of Global Crisis Perceptions survey that showed the Philippines with a higher rating in terms of COVID-19 response than more developed countries like Australia, Germany, USA, UK, Mexico, Italy, Thailand, Iran, France, and Japan.

Similarly, a recent Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey also disclosed that 8 out of 10 Filipinos or 84 percent said that strict stay-at-home measures were worth it to protect the people and control the spread of the virus.

“Again, let me put on record that, conservatism is important at this point of pandemic, because lives matter, and as the SWS survey shows, people agree [with] staying at home.”

Secretary Roque, meanwhile, stressed that zero transmission is difficult to attain at this point largely because of the high population density of the country. Social distancing is difficult to implement in many highly populated urban areas because of limited space. This is why the government continues to call to observe minimum public health standards.

“Sa totoo lang po nagagalak din tayo na bumababa yung mga namamatay. Ibig sabihin dumadami yung mga gumagaling so parang naging mas mahusay tayo sa pag-aalaga nung mga nagkakasakit ng COVID-19. Syempre ang gusto nating makita zero transmission, pero malayo pa po tayo,” Roque said. ### OPS-PCOO