Bishop Broderick Pabillo, the head of the Catholic Church in Metro Manila, emerged Sunday and thanked those who prayed for his recovery from COVID-19. He also urged the faithful to put duty and love of country first during the pandemic.
Wearing a face shield over his face mask, the apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Manila said in his homily that it was troubling how the Philippines now has the most number of COVID-19 infections in Southeast Asia, overtaking Indonesia.
"Ang ibig sabihin, matatagalan tayo bago magkaroon ng maayos na economic recovery. Patuloy na matamlay o naghihingalo ang ekonomiya. Nakakalungkot pa, walang pinapakitang kapani-paniwalang paraan ang ating gobyerno para sugpuin ang health and economic issue na ito," he said.
(This means a true economic recovery could take a while. The economy will continue to be weak. What's sad, our government has not put forth a believable plan to fight this health and economic issue.)
The economy is officially in a recession after April to June data showed GDP shrank by 16.5%, the most since 1981 based on comparable records. As the government moves to secure a vaccine, Finance Sec. Carlos Dominguez said the country would pursue its infrastructure overhaul, push for the passage of a the second Bayanihan pandemic-fighting law and recalibrate the 2021 national budget. Likening the effort to revive the economy to a Pacquiao fight, Dominguez said the goal was to keep the country's "fiscal stamina" and last for 12 rounds.
Pabillo rued how death penalty was being pushed during the pandemic. The Catholic Church, of course, has been immovable in ints stand against the death penalty and other issues such as birth control and same sex marriage.
Health frontliners, Pabillo said, should not be blamed for calling for a timeout. Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal are under MECQ, the second highest quarantine classification, until Aug. 18 in response to a distress call from doctors, workers and health workers on Aug. 2 over fast-rising cases.
"Nakakahiya ang ating bayan ngayon. Ano ba ang attitude natin sa ganitong kalagayan? Madami, ayaw na lang kumibo. Hayaan mo na sila diyan sa pamahalaan. Basta ang mahalaga ay magsurvive kami (Our country is shameful right now. What is our attitute towards our predicament? Many choose to be silent. Let people in government deal with it, as long as I survive)," he said.
"Sana naman mabahala tayo, dahil sa mahal natin ang ating bayan. Sa ganitong kagipitan, dapat lumabas ang pagmamahal at pagmamalasakit sa bayan (I hope we get concerned because we love our country. During difficult times, duty and love of country must prevail)," he said. Sunday's gospel was about Christ walking on water.
Referring to the frontliners' call, Pabillo said: "They called for a timeout not just to rest but to evaluate better our aproaches. They do not want that we become like New York where people just their die in their homes."
A rethink of the country's COVID-19 strategy during the MECQ is underway, among early measures, the government said it would soon start trials of the anti-flu medicine Avigan, increase national contact-tracing capacibilty by six-fold, go house-to-house to check for possible patients and their contacts and increase hospital bed allocations for COVID-19. Face shields will also be mandatory in public transport from Aug. 15.