Roque defends ‘Congratulations, Philippines’ remark amid backlash: I’ll keep doing it to encourage people

Published Jul 1, 2020 1:00:45 PM

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 1)— Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Wednesday brushed off criticisms over his latest remark congratulating the country for beating a COVID-19 case forecast, saying he will “keep on doing it” to encourage Filipinos amid the pandemic.

Speaking to CNN Philippines, Roque said he won’t hesitate to make the praise a monthly routine— as a constant reminder to people that the coronavirus battle can be fought and won.

“I think, every month now, I’m going to keep on doing it, and I really don’t care about the critics,” Roque said in an interview with The Source. “I think people should be reminded, that although there are mathematical models, we could still control what happens in our lives.”

“I will keep on doing it— because it’s the only way we could encourage people,” he added.

In his Tuesday media briefing, Roque happily exclaimed that the Philippines proved wrong a forecast by the University of the Philippines’ OCTA Research Team that COVID-19 cases in the country could rise to 40,000 by the end of the June. Prior to the statement, the nationwide toll stood at 36,438.

The statement drew flak from netizens who stressed that the virus— not UP— was the real enemy. Some also questioned the need for praise, when the country continues to record rising number of infections.

Roque agreed with that view — and asked for understanding as the Philippines continues to fight and thrive in the pandemic.

Ang kalaban talaga ay COVID. Siguro parang ringside commentator itong UP, ‘yung sinasabi nila ang magiging score. Konting intindi lang po,” the spokesperson said in response to critics.

[Translation: COVID is the real enemy. Perhaps UP is only the ringside commentator, the ones who are telling the score. We’re asking for some understanding.]

The state university’s latest study also projected that by July 31, infections may further surge to at least 60,000.

Roque, on the other hand, said he hopes the case count in the country will not reach 50,000 by the end of July.


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