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Harry Roque calls critics ‘utak talangka’ as PH sets new record high for COVID-19 cases

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque would call government critics utak talangka, describing what many consider a common yet negative Filipino trait of crab mentality.

It seems the Duterte administration isn’t open to criticisms, even as two people have already said they are.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque would call government critics utak talangka, describing what many consider a common yet negative Filipino trait of crab mentality.

It came about after the government critics hit President Rodrigo Duterte’s 76th birthday celebration. Roque later ties into criticisms about the pandemic response.

“Huwag po ninyong kakalimutan, mga kababayan, huwag po tayong makikining sa mga utak-talangka na iyan. Buong mundo po ay may problema sa new variant., hindi po tayo nag-iisa,” said Roque during his media briefing.

Netizens have hit Roque for this very statement, calling him out for not being receptive to criticism.

They also called out Roque for passing off the government’s inability to flatten the curve and contain the virus and resulted in mutation—even as other countries have already managed to do so.

Netizens argue that since the virus’s behavior is unpredictable, it would have been different if the government acted earlier than it did.

Recall that in February, President Rodrigo Duterte himself flat-out refused to recognize the threat of COVID-19, something which he would later say he warned everyone with.

The “crab mentality” remark—and its subsequent backlash—also hits home for netizens in the form of irony.

Most of the government’s critics have received pretty much the same treatment from administration officials, specifically those in Duterte’s cabinet; that is, they resist criticism if it is not something they took into account.

Presidential Chief Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo would call out critics in his daily program Counterpoint last March 24, saying the government is receptive to “constructive criticism”.

He would, however, not elaborate on what he meant by “constructive”, as he proceeded to lash out at Vice President Leni Robredo for suggesting measures that “have already been implemented” by the government.

Robredo, however, is usually the first to act and would receive criticism for “trying to compete with the government.”

These lapses in the pandemic response often include limiting public transportation without offering alternatives, a problem which Robredo’s office took to heart and solved with partnerships involving the private sector.


The now-commonplace shuttle service for frontliners has since been part and parcel of the pandemic response.

VP Leni Robredo earns praises for using a science-based approach to help battle in COVID-19

Stories of netizens reveal real ground data on COVID-19 response, show lapses in gov’t pandemic response