Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque walked back his statement saying that Filipinos already had enough of a “vacation” due to the pandemic, after netizens piled on him for his “privileged” and “insensitive” remark.
Roque made the statement in response to questions why Malacanang recently decided to declare Dec. 24 and 31, which were traditional holidays, as “special working days.”
“Napakatagal na po nating nakabakasyon. Halos isang taon na tayong nagbakasyon dahil sa COVID-19,” Roque said in a briefing.
“Siguro naman po, ngayong andito na ang bakuna, hayaan naman nating maka-recover tayo for lost time,” added Roque.
The statement swiftly drew flak online.
Twitter user Renz Saavedra said that “people died” and “people lost their jobs” during the vacation Roque was referring to, noting that the spokesperson was detached from reality.
People died.— Renz Saavedra ✨ (@SirRenzSaavedra) March 2, 2021
People lost their jobs.
PINAGSASABI MONG VACATION, HARRY ROQUE???? SOBRANG DETACHED SA REALIDAD AMPUTA
Twitter user Ysa said Roque’s comment “was really insensitive.”
Harry Roque's comment was really INSENSITIVE. SUCH A HUGE ASS. Many people are dying! No work! Most people can't even eat anymore.— ??? ?? J-Pop & JDoEiga Fangirl (@ysabelandrei) March 2, 2021
In our case, my dad lost his job so we migrated to the province. How can you tell na bakasyon lang ito??
Twitter user Tontoneri alluded to Roque’s activities during the pandemic, saying that “millions of Filipinos cannot afford a swim with the dolphins and isolate in Boracay.”
Bakasyon daw ang covid according to @attyharryroque. Millions of Filipinos cannot afford a swim with the dolphins and isolate in Boracay. Their vacation was spent anxiously asking where they will get their next meal.— #EqualUnderLaw (@tontonneri) March 2, 2021
Basketball athlete Kiefer Ravena retweeted a quote card of Roque along with the smiling face with tear emoji.
Bakasyon? ? https://t.co/GFcK9KIj1v— Kiefer Ravena (@kieferravena) March 2, 2021
Twitter user Kieran tweeted a clip of Eula Valdez with the caption “pinoys to Harry Roque” where the actress said, “Wag na lang natin patulan yung hallucinations ni Harry.”
pinoys to harry roque: pic.twitter.com/zvzfFV37dh— Kieran (@imkierantiu) March 3, 2021
After the issue blew up, Roque then issued a statement to clarify what he said.
“Ang konteksto lang nito, talagang maraming tao ang hindi nakapaghanapbuhay dahil dito sa pandemiyang ito. Kaya nga ninanais ng economic team na makahabol naman tayo,” Roque said.
“Hindi naman po talaga bakasyon 'yan, kung hindi, hindi nakapagtatrabaho. Kaya ngayon na pupuwede na po tayong makapagtrabaho sana dahil nagbubukas na tayo ng ekonomiya, hayaan naman nating kumita at makapagtrabaho ang ating mga kababayan,” Roque added.
President Rodrigo Duterte signed Proclamation 1107 on Feb. 26, classifying Dec. 24 and 31 as special working days. Duterte noted the move was meant to “encourage economic productivity by, among others, minimizing work disruption.”