MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo on Sunday said Interior Undersecretary Epimaco Densing’s remarks show the need to screen political appointees better, saying also the official isn’t representative of the people at the Department of the Interior and Local Government.
Densing, in comments in an interview on ONE News and on social media took a swipe at the vice president and called her “non-essential.” The remarks came after a video of a barangay official in Bulacan blocking a delivery of lugaw, saying the rice porridge isn’t an essential good exempted from curfew restrictions.
She said that not doing so would mean officials like Densing having government posts. “If these are the people who are supposed to be serving the public, it’s the public who loses.”
The vice president added: “I don’t want to waste time on this because if the conversation is going there, then you don’t have enough work to do…I know people from DILG and I’m sad that they have to be associated with this public official.”
The vice president’s spokesperson, Barry Guttierez, responded to the remark in a tweet earlier in the week saying: “This guy epitomizes the admin’s COVID-19 response. With cases rising, hospitals full, and millions struggling, instead of doing real work he makes ‘jokes,’ plays politics, and bashes someone who’s actually doing the job they’re supposed to.”
In a text message to Philstar.com earlier, department spokesperson Jonathan Malaya disavowed Densing’s comments, saying the views expressed were “not the official stand of the DILG.”
The vice president in her radio show also said that the government should have a “scorecard” in tracking its weekly goals supposed successes over the pandemic.
“The plan is very general right now…how is it different from what we’ve been doing for a year? My suggestion, just so we have an objective, maybe we should have a scorecard,” she said.
“Everything we’re doing right now should have a timeline…if we’re extending [ECQ] for one week, what are we trying to achieve by April 11? Because they’re saying we’ll have to assess if we’re going to extend by then. But we’re just going back to what we did before. If only there were weekly goals.”
Robredo pointed to the “Detect” aspect of the government’s new “Prevent, Detect, Treat, Isolate and Reintegrate” strategy as one example.
“How much are you going to increase testing by? If you look at the actual tests, they only did around 33,000. My point is that when cases were around 1,000, our testing was at 30,000. Why are we still here?” she said, adding that her office was looking at cases per capita and by 100,000 population.
“If we’re telling local governments to test their citizens and go house to house, the question now is, do the LGUs actually have the capacity to do that and buy thousands of test kits? Because if they don’t, then the national government should step in.”
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