'Sasayawan ang COVID-19'? Roque says remark refers to hammer and dance theory

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 09 2020 03:51 PM

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque. Toto Lozano, Presidential Photo/File

MANILA - Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Thursday said his earlier "sasayawan" (dance around) remark in reference to how Filipinos should respond to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic should not be taken literally. 

After drawing flak and becoming the subject of memes, Roque explained that he was referring to the hammer and dance theory, which describes an approach on how to deal with the pandemic.

"Marami po ang nagtatanong nang banggitin ko na sayawan ang COVID-19. Hindi po literal 'yan," Roque said in a Palace briefing on Thursday.

(Many asked why should we dance to COVID-19. That's not literal.)

Roque said the "hammer" refers to the lockdown period used to buy time to put in place COVID-19 precautionary measures, while the "dance" refers to periods of easing of virus restrictions.

"Ang ibig sabihin po nung hammer and dance theory sa simula ginamit natin 'yung hammer, lockdown. Ngayon naman po mabubuhay tayo sa kabila ng COVID-19," he said.

(The hammer and dance theory means that at first we use the hammer or the lockdown. Now we will live despite COVID-19.)

Screenshot from Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque's powerpoint presentation

The Palace spokesman on Tuesday drew flak after he made the "sasayawan" remark in explaining the need for the country to reopen the economy while dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Sasayawan po natin, we have to deal with COVID-19; we have to resume with our economy; and at the same time, protect our people," Roque said on Tuesday.

The Philippines as of Wednesday has confirmed 50,359 COVID-19 cases, of which 36,457 are active.

Despite the increasing number of coronavirus cases, Roque has repeatedly insisted that the Philippines is "winning" the fight against the pandemic.