07/31/2020, 16.17
PHILIPPINES
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Philippines overtakes China in number of COVID-19 cases, bishops again against Duterte

The Philippines leads in the Asia-Pacific region. Yesterday a record 3,954 new cases were reported. For the Bishop of Kidapawan, the president’s “pride, prejudice and power prevailed over better judgment and people’s welfare”. Duterte calls on the poor to disinfect protective masks with petrol.

Manila (AsiaNews) – The Philippines has overtaken China in terms of coronavirus cases in the Asia-Pacific region, this according to the latest data from the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The Philippines now has 89,374 COVID-19 cases followed by China (84,292), and Singapore (51,809). However, China still has more deaths, 4,634, compared to the Philippines’s 1,983.

The release of WHO data follows the latest update by the Philippine Department of Health (DoH), which reported the highest daily new COVID-19 cases tally (3,954) as well as a record-breaking 38,075 new recoveries.

The DoH explained that the latter figure was the result of re-tagging all mild and asymptomatic cases as recovered patients.

For her part, the Philippine Catholic Church once again criticised Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte for his handling of the pandemic. What could have provided a great opportunity to unite Filipinos instead became an element of further divisions.

Reacting to Duterte’s fifth State of the Nation Address, Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo of Kidapawan (Cotabato) said that “pride, prejudice and power prevailed over better judgment and people welfare.”

The president, in the prelate’s view, “lost his chance to rally and unite the Filipino people when it is most needed.”

Duterte’s address lasted 1 hour and 40 minutes and was nothing but “divisive” and “rhetoric,” said Bishop Bagaforo, who is also the national director of Caritas Philippines.

The speech was just a reiteration of the same rhetoric on drugs that “widely resulted in extrajudicial killings, and corruption which shielded his cronies”.

For the Bishop of Kidapawan, “all he [Duterte] can think of is revenge, which at the end of his speech, just divided further an already broken nation”.

What is more, the “president failed to concretely present his plans on how to improve the healthcare system in the country and the delivery of public service to the vulnerable sectors.”

Unconcerned about criticism from the bishops and unafraid of ridicule, the president again advised the poor to use petrol to clean protective masks if they don’t have alcohol or other disinfectants.

Duterte made the suggestion last week, but many thought he was wise cracking or joking. Instead, the president repeated the advice today, attacking (and insulting) his critics and opponents once again.

“They (critics) said, 'Duterte's insane'. If I'm insane, you should be the president, not me,” the president said. "What I've said was true. If alcohol isn't available, especially for the poor, just go to a gasoline station, and use (gas) to disinfect. I am not joking.”

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