PRRD claims no “taga-squatter” has been infected with COVID-19, “not even in Davao City” but…

DAVAO CITY (Minda News / 09 September) –  President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said he has not seen anyone from the “taga-squatter” (slums) infected with the coronavirus disease (COVID)-19, “not even in Davao City,” adding it may be because of the climate or the body constitution itself of residents in these areas.

Several urban poor communities, however, have been infected, some of them even placed under lockdown in his home city of Davao which has the highest number of COVID-19 cases across Mindanao’s 27 provinces and 33 cities. As of September 8,  Davao City recorded 1,471 cases or 63.3% out of 2,323 cases in the Davao region. Mindanao recorded a total of 7,817 cases on the same date.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte talks to the people after holding a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang on September 7, 2020. Duterte claimed no one from the slums has been infected with COVID-19, “not even in Davao City.” KARL NORMAN ALONZO/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

In his pre-taped “Talk to the People” aired Monday night, Duterte praised the high recovery rate from COVID-19 and said it “may be because of the climate or the constitution body itself” or because Filipinos “have more antibodies” and added:

“Huwag ho kayong mainsulto kasi totoo naman — pero wala akong nakitang taga-squatter na tinamaan. Maski sa Davao, magtanong ako ng mga bata, wala. Sabi nila, “ano ‘yan?” (Do not feel insulted because it’s true – but I have not seen anyone from the squatters’ area struck by COVID-19. Even in Davao, I asked the children, none. They said, ‘what’s that?’)

“So nary — nary a care about COVID. Ito ‘yung lumaki sa ano eh. So all these years from infancy to how old they are now, hinigop nilang lahat ng ano kagaw kaya nagkaroon na sila ng panglaban. Maliit pa, ‘pag lumusot kasi ‘yan sila noong maliit pa nagkasakit five, six, seven, eight, ‘pag lumusot ‘yan ‘pag malaki na ‘yan, matatag ‘yan. (These are those who grew up in … all these years from infancy to how old they are now, they took in all those germs that’s why they have antibodies. Since they were small, they survived sickness at five, six, seven, eight. So if they survive these, they’re strong). Hindi na tinatablan pero (They won’t be infected but) do not be too complacent about it just because you think that you have the antibodies. You might really have the advantage but the law of averages always takes a toll — its toll. Malay mo matamaan ka talaga (For all you know, you might be infected).

Since he imposed a lockdown of  Metro Manila in mid-March, the President has  returned home thrice, the last from August 3 to 30, but he has had no public engagements here that would have allowed him to interact with children of urban poor communities on COVID-19.


His daughter, Mayor Sara Duterte, has placed several urban poor communities in the city under lockdown to stop the spread of the disease.

The first was on April 21 when the mayor placed three puroks in Barangay 23-C and one purok in Barangay 21-C on lockdown after health authorities confirmed that some residents in these areas tested positive for COVID-19.

The mayor imposed a “hard lockdown” from July 4 to 20 on the entire Barangay 23-C, which comprises seven puroks and has an estimated population of 18,000.

Task Force Davao personnel conduct maritime patrol along the shorelines of Barangay 23-C on 21 April 2020 in connection with the lockdown of Purok 3, Purok 4, and Purok 7, known COVID-19 hot spots in Davao City. Also on lockdown is Purok 9 of Barangay 21-C. The 24/7 patrol coverage is provided by the Philippine Coast Guard Davao, Philippine Navy, Maritime Police and TF Davao. Photo courtesy of Task Force Davao

Barangay 23-C is one of  four areas in Davao City where community transmission has been confirmed. Aside from Barangay 23-C, Assistant regional health director Lenny Joy Rivera in July also confirmed community transmission of COVID-19 in Agdao District, Buhangin District, and Mintal.

Purok 8, an urban poor community in n Barangay Tomas Monteverde in Agdao District, was placed under a 14-day total lockdown beginning August 17, after 65 residents tested positive for COVID-19.

In a statement, the city government said the purok must be locked down to prevent the infection from spreading to neighboring puroks and barangays.

Those who tested positive were sent to a temporary treatment and monitoring facility.

As of September 8, records from the Department of Health regional office show that Barangay 23-C has the highest number of cases at 129, four of these active; followed by Tomas Monteverde Sr. with 97, 18 of these active; Buhangin with 93, 10 of them active; Leon Garcia Sr., with 58, nine of them active;  76-A with 54 cases, 10 of them active. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)