President Rodrigo Duterte was lamenting about how stricter quarantine classifications had to be imposed due to rising daily Covid-19 infections when he said the country is “almost back to zero”, a Palace official said Wednesday.
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo made this clarification, saying critics should not consider it as an admission that the Duterte administration failed to efficiently respond to the prevailing pandemic.
“Sabihin na naman ng mga kritiko, o ngayon inaamin mo na. Hindi, pag sinabing back to zero, ibig sabihin andiyan na naman ang Covid cases natin at dumarami pa. Hindi ibig sabihin ng back to zero wala tayong ginawa at wala tayong ginagawa (Critics might say that you’re admitting failure. No, when he said back to zero, he meant Covid infections are rising. Back to zero doesn’t mean we didn’t do anything or haven’t done anything),” he said in his online commentary show “Counterpoint.”
Panelo said he clarified the President’s remark so it would not be taken out of context by his critics.
“Liwanagin po natin ‘yan kasi kasi you will take the President out of his context yung lengguwahe niya (I just wanted to clarify it because you might take the President’s language out of context),” he added.
Prior to announcing new quarantine classifications in his public address last Monday, Duterte said the new restrictions were similar to the ones imposed over a year ago.
“Halos back to zero tayo dito (It’s almost as if we’re back to zero here),” he said.
Duterte, in the same speech, admitted that he is “having a hard time” grappling with the ongoing health crisis.
“It takes most of my time actually. More than any other papers, it’s the Covid that is taking my time or most of my time,” he said.
If he had a “magic wand” to eliminate the pandemic, he said he would wave it.
“If only I had the power — kung nandiyan lang sa akin ‘yong poder na like a magic wand na maalis kaagad itong problema natin, mawala, gagawin ko (If I had a magic wand to make this problem go away, I would wave it),” he said.
He also talked about how “hard” it is to manage a health crisis, noting that the country’s current situation nearly brought him to tears.
“Gusto ko na ngang umiyak sa harap ninyo pero naubos na ang luha ko. Hay buhay. Kung alam lang ninyo ang — ang… Para akong dumadaan ng purgatoryo ngayon at this time hanggang hindi matulungan ang lahat ng Pilipino (I want to cry in front of you but I have no more tears. Oh, life. If you only knew. It feels like I’m walking through purgatory at this time),” Duterte said.
Panelo said Duterte’s recent speech showed that the pandemic affected him “emotionally” and “mentally.”
Duterte retained the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) status, the most strict community quarantine, over Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal until April 4.
From April 1 to 30, Santiago City in Isabela will be placed under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) while Quirino Province will be under MECQ from April 1 to April 15.
The entire Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR); Cagayan, Isabela, and Nueva Vizcaya in Region 2; and Batangas will be placed under general community quarantine (GCQ) until April 30.
Tacloban City, Iligan City, Davao City, and Lanao del Sur will also be under GCQ for the whole month of April.
All other areas will be placed under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ), the most relaxed quarantine classification, for the month of April.
As of Tuesday, the country has recorded 741,181 Covid-19 cases of which 13,191 are deaths and 603,310 are recoveries.