Palace changes tack, now welcomes Robredo’s input for COVID-19 response

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Wednesday claimed that contributions, including policy recommendations for the COVID-19 response from the opposition, are “welcome” and “much appreciated.”

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque issued the claim a day after Vice President Leni Robredo delivered her “Ulat ng Bayan” where she enumerated her accomplishments during the past year.

“We welcome the initiatives of the Vice President in the fight against COVID-19. which she enumerated in her Ulat sa Bayan and we are in no way diminishing her efforts in this trying time,” he said in a statement.

“Any contribution, including policy recommendations from the political opposition, to ensure the successful fight against the pandemic, is much appreciated,” Roque added.

Palace’s reception to Robredo’s recommendations is a study in contrast with Roque’s reaction to her Ulat sa Bayan in 2019, wherein Roque told Robredo and the opposition to open their eyes and ears to see the government’s efforts to fight the pandemic.

At that time, Roque said he is no longer expecting the Vice President to say anything positive on how the Duterte administration is handling the pandemic.

Malacañang also said it sees no need in appointing Robredo in the government’s task force against COVID-19.

Roque also told Robredo she should have a clear stance on Chinese vaccines first before she leads an infomercial ad on COVID-19 vaccines with President Rodrigo Duterte.

In January this year, Robredo urged the Duterte government to recognize its lapses in its COVID-19 response and fix them instead of defending them.

Meanwhile, Malacañang agreed with Robredo in her message saying that it was the Filipinos who helped and came to the rescue of fellow Filipinos during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Roque said the President paid tribute to frontliners during the pandemic in his final State of the Nation Address (Sona).

“We reiterate: Now is the time to focus on COVID-19 and help the national government in achieving population protection; so together, we will recover and have a happy Christmas and a better future for all Filipinos,” he said.

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