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Is he dumb or out of touch?

Did supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte find it dumb when he admitted the lack of vaccines in the Philippines? The president, during his talk to the nation on April 15, 2021, said the only vaccines we had were those we got from China. “When will we have the stocks sufficient to vaccinate the people? I really do not know. Nobody knows.”

Coming from the president, I found the statements dumb. I remember that a week after his 2020 State of the Nation Address (Sona), President Duterte proudly revealed that his plan against Covid-19 revolved around getting vaccines. In the following months, there was this frenzy to secure vaccines from suppliers, be these donated or purchased, by the national administration and local governments units. However, December 2020 came. Other countries began their vaccination campaigns. The first batch of donated vaccines from China arrived only in Feb. 2021. An enthusiastic President Duterte personally met the arrival at the airport. He then promised to personally visit China soon and personally thank the Chinese President Xi Zinping.

But when will sufficient stocks arrive so the country can start seriously start the vaccination program for 70 million Filipinos and thus achieve herd immunity hopefully by the end of the month? After all these time, President Duterte saying he does not know when vaccine stocks will be enough makes him look dumb if he is not.

In another message, President Duterte said many will die because of the lack of vaccines. Still in another message, the president described as “maliit na bagay” the recent rise in Covid-19 cases especially in Metro Manila. Suffering from a mild Covid-19 case here in Cebu, I know Covid-19 is not ‘maliit na bagay.’ Still, I had all the time reading about these developments. I could only ask if President Duterte is dumb, just outof-touch, or both?

The difference

President Duterte suddenly disappears without a word for two weeks as his aides say some presidential guards got positive. When he showed himself, he went into a tirade against detained senator Leila de Lima.

 Vice President Leni Robredo, on the other hand, cancels a trip and posts an explanation on her Facebook. A close-in bodyguard got positive. This meant Robredo had also to go into quarantine. However, because she was asymptomatic, her spokesman Barry Gutierrez said, she continued supervising her projects. (Emmanuel Mongaya is co-founder and director for Strategic Communications of PRWorks Inc. He is also a member of the Political Officers League of the Philippines (POLPHil). DM @anol_cebu)