De Lima to Duterte: Stop being a tool for Beijing’s COVID-19 propaganda


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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima blasts the President’s use of televised late-night meetings with his COVID-19 team in order to further Beijing’s propaganda to downplay its mishandling of the ongoing global pandemic.

De Lima’s statement came after Mr. Duterte repeatedly praised Beijing’s management of the crisis despite accusations of other governments and international experts that they be held responsible for the apparent withholding vital information regarding the spread of the novel coronavirus around the world.

“Recent history is clear on his failure to act sensibly, quickly and decisively on the COVID-19 pandemic. He tried to downplay the contagion and failed to initiate any semblance of preparation early on,” she said in a handwritten statement last April 14.

“His subservience to the Chinese government should have allowed us to be informed earlier and prepared better. But it did not. The opposite happened. He bought into the China propaganda—hook, line, and sinker. By the time he appeared to be moving finally, we were already playing catch up. No amount of propaganda will change that,” she added.

Last April 13, Malacañang has broadcasted Mr. Duterte’s supposed meeting with his COVID-19 team regarding government efforts to aid millions of Filipinos affected by the lockdown measures implemented to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

In the meeting, Mr. Duterte lauded China’s President Xi Jinping for his alleged decisiveness on what he believes to be a successful strict lockdown of the Hubei province for almost three months, which – according to Chinese-controlled reports – has successfully eradicated the virus in the area.

Duterte also heaped his thanks to Xi for his commitment to “support” his administration in its fight against COVID-19. The President also believes that the Philippines will be the “priority” in receiving the vaccine, if and when China develops it.

“We are already making great strides towards extending help to our countrymen and preventing the spread of COVID-19. But instead of taking control of these efforts and focusing on ensuring that everything is implemented properly, Mr. Duterte is still finding time for Chinese propaganda,” De Lima said.

“Alam na ng buong mundo ang kasinungalingan at kalokohan ng China sa nangyayaring krisis sa COVID-19. Naghahanda na ang mga gobyerno ng ibang bansa na pagbayarin ang China sa kanilang kasinungalingan. Pero si G. Duterte, tuloy pa rin ang pagyuko at pagsamba sa kanila. Pag hindi pa sya tumigil, baka madamay pa tayo sa magiging maaaring parusa sa China,” she added.

Some political pundits believe that China has suppressed significant information about the virus in the early stages of the outbreak, including its human to human transmission and even censored and detained doctors and other whistleblowers who attempted to sound the alarm.

The United States of America, citing intelligence reports, has accused the South East Asian giant of lying about its published numbers of infected cases, as well as its deaths to save face in the international community.

The lady senator from Bicol also opposed the oft-repeated suggestion of Mr. Duterte to sell Philippine owned assets and properties, even after receiving special powers from Congress to gather and use over PhP500 billion to fund COVID-19 related efforts.

“[Selling off Philippine properties] should be the last resort. His economic team is already doing a decent job raising funds. Meron ba si Duterte na buyer na pinag-iinteresan ang mga ari-arian ng taumbayan? China ba yan o crony niya?” De Lima said.

“Meanwhile, as Mr. Duterte continues to spout praises and gratitude to Mr. Xi Jinping, China is plowing deeper into our sovereign waters, further undermining our hold over the West Philippine Sea,” she added.

As of April 14, the Philippines has continued to observe an upward trend of COVID-19 cases with 5,223 of confirmed infected, 335 deaths and 295 recoveries despite lockdowns in Luzon and other regions around the country.

However, there are concerns that the real numbers of those impacted by the novel coronavirus could be much higher than those published as mass testing efforts have yet to be rolled out.

“In order to pursue our COVID-19 measures to complete success, we need to stop being tools to Chinese propaganda. The Chinese government placed us in this situation,” De Lima said.

“We need to focus on our own efforts, and prioritize our own people and our own country. Tama na po ang pagiging pro-China. Maging pro-Filipino na tayong lahat,” she added. (30)

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