'I have ‘highest respect’ for Duterte, Galvez, Duque in their performance against COVID-19' - Arroyo

Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Thursday expressed highest respect for government officials and those at the forefront of the Philippines’ response against the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic.

During a meeting with lawmakers of the House Economic Affairs Committee, Arroyo said Duterte has done all the necessary measures when needed, upholding by government’s performance in the COVID-19 battle.

“The first case of COVID-19 was in November of 2019. Now, 7 months later, the global picture for COVID-19 is emerging. As the results now show, I think that we can hold our heads up high given our country’s performance," the former house speaker said.

"As of June 24, we have 31,825 cases with 1,186 fatalities or a 3.7 percent fatality ratio. In comparison, the United States has around 2,350,000 cases with around 122,000 fatalities or a fatality ratio of nearly 5.2 percent." she mentioned.

"Globally there are around 8.5 million cases with around 450,000 fatalities or a fatality ratio of 5.3 percent . To all those involved in our fight against COVID-19, thank you for your service to the nation," she said.

Speaking from her experience in leading the fight against three virus outbreaks during her term, it took a lot of courage and sacrifices in handling a health crisis like the COVID 19 pandemic.

During Arroyo's term as the president of the country there was the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003, bird flu in 2006, and swine flu in 2009.

In an article by Inquirer, She pointed out that “it is easy to criticize when you are seated at the sidelines” and that actual “gladiators at the arena” have a very different perspective in dealing with crises.

“I was head of our government in the SARS, avian flu, and swine flu. From that perspective, I must say that I have nothing but the highest respect for all of those in our government now battling in the arena, from President [Rodrigo] Duterte to Sec. [Carlito] Galvez, to Sec. [Francisco] Duque and to each and every frontliner in the trenches and checkpoints, many of whom have given their lives in this fight,” said Arroyo.

“I have been in the arena, so I think I have earned the right to say that an ounce of their effort is worth more than the ton of criticism they receive day in and day out,” she added.

In addition, She has the same amount of respect for civilians “keeping the basic wheels of the country going” in other sectors.

"I have the same amount of respect for the 'civilians' so to speak, who have kept the basic wheels of our country going such as by way of delivering goods, manning grocery stores, keeping bank branches open, and keeping city halls and congressional halls functioning,” Arroyo said.

Arroyo made the statement amid criticism in the country’s response against the pandemic, where 32,295 individuals have already been infected, including 1,204 who died and 8,656 who have recovered.

Maria Gloria Macaraeg Macapagal Arroyo served as the 14th president of the Philippines from 2001 until 2010. After her presidency, she was elected as the representative of Pampanga's 2nd district in 2010 and later became the Speaker of the House of Representatives from 2018 until her retirement in 2019. 

She is the first woman to hold two of the highest offices in the country: Vice President and Speaker of the House.

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