MANILA - Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo on Sunday urged the public to demand COVID-19 response from lawmakers and officials as the Philippines topped the number of virus cases in Southeast Asia, and even surpassed the tally of mainland China where the disease originated.
In Pabillo's first mass following his recovery from the coronavirus, the bishop said love of country must rise above all instead of measures such as those that revive death penalty.
The top Manila prelate last Sunday said he has recovered from the disease after he announced contracting it last month.
"Sa ating pagmamahal sa ating bayang Pilipinas, dito rin matatagpuan natin ang Diyos. 'Wag tayong magwalang-bahala sa mga nangyayari sa atin. 'Wag natin hayaan ang ating mga senador at kongresista na gumawa ng batas na immoral, ng batas na pumapatay," he said in his homily at the San Fellipe Neri Parish in Mandaluyong City.
(We can find God in loving our country. Let's not set aside what's happening to us. Let's not allow senators and congressmen to create laws that are immoral, that kill.)
"Sabihin natin sa kanila, pansinin ninyo, sagutin ninyo ang daing ng mamamayan na naghahanap ng trabaho, pagkain, ng sapat na gamot. 'Yan dapat ang pagkakaabalahan ninyo."
(Let's tell them to answer the people's call for jobs, food, and enough medicine. That's what they should focus on.)
The bishop lamented government's seemingly lack of plan to address the pandemic.
"Nakakalungkot pa, walang pinapakitang kapani-paniwalang paraan ang ating gobyerno para sugpuin ang health at economic issues na ito. Sa halip, inaarangkada pa sa Kongreso at sa Senado ang pagpasa ng death penalty," he said.
(It's even sadder that government does not show a plausible way to address the pandemic's health and economic issues. Instead, Congress is pushing for death penalty.)
"Sinisisi pa ng ibang tao ng pamahalaan ang mga healthcare workers natin na hindi daw maayos ang trabaho o naglalayon lang daw sila na pabagsakin ang pamahalaan. Nakakahiya ang ating bayan ngayon."
(Some government officials even blame our healthworkers for supposedly not doing their job well or accuse them of planning to bring the government down. Our country is embarrassing right now.)
Medical frontliners wrote an open letter to government asking for a 2-week breather because they cared, Pabillo said.
President Rodrigo Duterte again placed Metro Manila and nearby provinces under a modified lockdown following the healthworkers' call as virus cases continued to surge in the Philippine capital region.
"They called for a timeout not just to rest but to evaluate better our approaches. They do not want that we become like New York where people just die in their homes and in the streets because hospitals could not accept them anymore," Pabillo said.
"Sana naman, mabahala tayo dahil sa mahal natin ang ating bayan. Sa ganitong kagipitan, dapat lumabas ang pagmamahal at pagmamalasakit sa bayan."
(Let's be alarmed because we love our country. In this time of need, our love and care for the nation should come out.)
Pabillo cited as an example St. Paul, who he said had a "great love" for his people.
"Handa si San Pablo na mapahamak ang sarili niya basta lang maligtas ang kaniyang kababayan. Bakit tayo umiiwas na magsalita, umiiwas na kumilos? Takot tayong mapagbintangan ng mga trolls? Mapagbintangan na mga rebelde? Takot ba ang dapat magpakilos sa atin o pagibig?" he said.
(St. Paul was willing to put himself in danger just to save his people. Why are we avoiding speaking out, taking action? Are we afraid of trolls? Are we afraid to be branded as rebels? Should fear dictate our actions or love?)
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said last week that the Philippines is on the "right track" in its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Habang mababa po ang mga namamatay tama po ang ginagawa natin. Tingin ko po, papunta tayo sa tamang direksyon na tayo ay nag MECQ," Roque said in an Aug. 3 press brieifing.
(As long as there are a few people dying, we are doing the right thing. I think we are going on the right track with the MECQ.)
The Philippines on Saturday reported 4,226 new COVID-19 cases, its fourth highest single-day increase since the pandemic began, raising the nationwide total to 126,885.
Of the total, 67,117 patients recovered and 2,209 died.