By Daniel Llanto

Vice-president Leni Robredo said Filipinos fighting to survive the corona virus pandemic are losing their “confidence” in government because of President Duterte’s prolonged absence from the public eye coupled with corruption scandals.

Robredo said confidence is crucial in helping the economy recover from the COVID-19 crisis. But she warned Filipinos are already losing their trust in the administration as several officials continue to face corruption scandals.

She cited the alleged overpricing of personal protective equipment (PPE) sets, the politicking in the distribution of the emergency cash aid and the latest scams hounding the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, the subject of congressional probes.

There is also unsettling view that Duterte is out of commission due to illness.  Presidential spokesman Harry Roque earlier caused a stir when he said the President is in “perpetual” isolation to avoid contacting COVID.

Roque retracted the comment in response to concerns that the Chief Executive may have come into contact with Interior Sec. Eduardo Año who tested positive for COVID-19. He issued the retraction after chat group and social media rumors that Duterte left the country for Singapore, saying “there is no truth that President Rodrigo Roa Duterte left the country this weekend.”

Duterte’s health has been the subject of much discussion as he has, on several occasions, appeared unwell to the public.  Lawyer Dino de Leon last week urged the Supreme Court to resolve his appeal on its dismissal of his petition to compel the Office of the President to release medical bulletins of the Chief Executive.

In his latest pleading, De Leon also cited the recent posts of a medical jet landing in Davao City and making a flight to Singapore, which fueled rumors that it was carrying a high-profile person for treatment.  De Leon then urged SC to reconsider its earlier ruling and, citing the importance of the issue his petition raises, set the case for oral arguments.

Duterte’s “disappearing act” does not boost the confidence of a nation in crisis, Robredo said.

Kaya nga, lalo na ngayong humaharap tayo sa pandemya, hindi nakakatulong ang mga gawaing lalong nagpapababa ng kumpiyansa. Paano ba naman magkakaroon ng kumpiyansa kung alam natin may leader pa tayo, patuloy ang mga alegasyon ng korapsyon – sa mga overpriced na PPE set at ayuda, sa PhilHealth na inaasahan nating magbibigay sa atin ng sense of security sakaling magkasakit tayo?” Robredo asked.

“Paanong magkakaroon ng kumpiyansa kung ni hindi natin maseguro kung saan napupunta ang mga pondo?  Paanong magkakakumpyansa kung sa tuwing magpe-press con ang liderato wala taong linaw na mahinuha?  Malinaw na handing sumagwan ang lahat, ang kulang na lang yong matututok sa atin sa dapat natin puntahan, yong magtitimon,” Robredo said.

The Vice-president made the statement in a 20-minute video she posted on Facebook, where she discussed her 11 concrete suggestions to help the economy recover from the COVID-19 crisis.

Robredo reserved her biggest punches towards the end of her address, as she slammed the Duterte administration for its failure to lead the nation at a time when Filipinos are looking for firm leadership.

“Hindi pagbabatikos ang pagbitbit ng mga sentimyentong ito.  This is our reality.  Karapatan at tungkulin natinto expect and demand more from our leaders,” Robredo added.

Still, the Vice-president said the public has shown in the past five months that when their government fails them, Filipinos themselves step up.

“At kung walang namumuno, tayo mismo ang hahakbang, tayo mismo ang matutulungan, tayo mismo ang bibitbit sa isa’t isa.  Tayo mismo ang haharap, tayo mismo ang mangunguna, gagampanan natin ang anumang tungkulin para daigin ang anumang pagsubok, sa ngalan n gating kapwa,” Robredo said.

“Tayo mismo ang tititig sa mukha ng krisis na ito at buong tapang na ihahayag: Maari mo kaming mapaluhod, pero hindi kailanman mapipigilan ang paulit-ulit at taas-noo naming pagtindig. Pilipino kami.  Mas malakas kami sa anumang pagsubok,” she added.