President Rodrigo Duterte has rallied Filipinos not to lose hope as COVID-19 cases continue to surge and vaccine supply remains tight, assuring the public that the government is not inutile in addressing virus-related concerns.
“Do not be afraid. Government is working. Government is busy doing everything, not nothing. Government is trying to get things to fix all of us. You might think we do not have any solution – we have solutions,” he said in a televised address to the nation Thursday night.
“We are not without means. We are not really at a total loss as to what to do. We know what to do. There are just so many noisy people. Everybody wants to be heard but the problem is there is no time to hear everyone. We do not have that luxury of time,” the President added.
Duterte, however, admitted that the forecast remains bleak until the majority of Filipinos are inoculated.
“Before it gets better, we have to go through the worst of times...Until now, the industrialized countries, those who have are not really ready to let go of their stock of vaccines...There is no sufficient supply to inoculate the world so this will last long. Many more will die.”
“Much to our sadness, the stock coming in is barely enough to inoculate health workers...When will we have the sufficient stock to vaccinate the people? I really do not know, nobody knows,” he added.
Duterte said in a worst-case scenario, he can use the state’s police powers to take over the operations of hotels to ensure that there are enough beds for COVID-19 patients, but clarified that this is not a desirable option.
“I am not without power. When we are pushed to the way either by the microbe itself, or external or internal, I can always order the military and police to go there and confiscate the operations of hotels. But that is not really a remedy desired in a democratic state,” he said.
The President also rejected accusations that the government had been remiss in its COVID-19 response.
“I want to disabuse your minds that we were remiss in our duty. Right after the World Health Organization advisory, the following day or the day after – within 48 hours – we already had the task force,” he said.
“We are facing an enemy that cannot be seen. We are facing an opponent where there is no sight at the end. We are facing a turmoil not only in the Philippines but in the entire world,” Duterte added.