Stubborn Cebuanos? Duterte remarks a 'positive challenge,' says official

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 09 2020 04:11 PM

A policeman mans a checkpoint along a road in Cebu City, central Philippines on June 24, 2020, after the government tightened its enhanced community quarantine restrictions amid rising cases of COVID-19 infections in the city. Alex Badayos, AFP

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte's comments describing Visayan people as stubborn is a "positive challenge" for Cebuanos amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Cebu City Vice Mayor Michael Rama said Thursday.

Rama said the President's remarks pushed Cebu City to ramp up its response to the coronavirus pandemic after Duterte criticized Visayans for allegedly flouting lockdown rules that led to the surge of COVID-19 cases in their region.

"We'll be taking it as a positive challenge, as an insight para it will give us a lesson to be really united and prove that we can be one in attacking this COVID-19," Rama said during a Palace press briefing.

"Mas mabuti 'yung prangka-prangka na that expression of sentiment ng Presidente, it has become a total challenge sa amin," he added.

(It's better to be frank because that sentiment of the President has become a total challenge for us.)

The President earlier this month criticized the supposed stubbornness of Visayans and cited it as a reason for the increase of COVID-19 cases in central Philippines.

While Metro Manila is still the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in the country, Region 7’s Cebu province and Cebu City have been identified as hotspots. 

Cebu City is the only part of the country that remains under strict lockdown or enhanced community quarantine.

The President has assigned Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu to the Visayan urban hub to lead the city's response to the COVID-19 crisis.