, May 24, 2024

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  •   3 min reads
South China Morning Post

By Joey Salgado

Should we be surprised that the Philippines ranks second to the last, or 52 in a list of 53 countries, in pandemic resilience?

Health Secretary Francisco Duque was not only surprised. He said in an interview he was “pissed” by what he deemed unfair reporting by international business media outlet Bloomberg.

Philippines second to last in pandemic response - BusinessWorld
The Philippines ranked 52nd out of 53 countries in terms of pandemic response, according to Bloomberg’s coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) resilience ranking, where the government scored poorly in vaccine rollout, among other things.

According to Duque, the ranking is “skewed” to favor countries with high vaccination rates. But wasn’t the Health Secretary and other senior officials bragging until a few weeks ago that the country ranks high in terms of vaccinations, higher than some developed countries? And didn’t they offer the ranking, which they prepared themselves, as evidence of their efficiency and competence?

Massaging the Message
With more than a million COVID-19 cases, government is scrambling to put a positive spin on our dire situation. But are we really better off than India and other countries?

Obviously our officials are now using a new talking point where they play the victim card. The Health Secretary laments that richer countries have unfairly cornered most of the vaccine doses at the expense of poorer countries like ours. This may have a ring of truth. But it is also true that Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. had earlier accused a fellow Cabinet official of “dropping the ball” on a deal to secure vaccines from a US manufacturer last year. Some reports identified that Cabinet official as the Health Secretary himself.

Locsin confirms Duque ‘dropped the ball’ in Pfizer vaccine deal, but urges end to blame game
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro “Teddy Boy” Locsin Jr. on Monday confirmed it was Health Secretary Francisco Duque III who had ‘dropped the ball’ in the country’s COVID-19 vaccine negotiations with American drug maker Pfizer.

Asked what actions he intends to take against Bloomberg, the Health Secretary said he is considering “writing a letter.” Mister Secretary, it will take more than a letter to change the facts.

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