Palace spokesman Harry Roque issued an atypical statement on Wednesday where he expressed gratitude to Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo’s pandemic response suggestions in her “Ulat ni VP Leni” address.

Roque, who has often criticized and dismissed Robredo’s comments, said the vice president’s contributions amid the Covid-19 pandemic were “much appreciated.”

“The Palace is one with the vice president in her ‘Ulat sa Bayan’ message that in this challenging time of Covid-19, it is the Filipinos who helped and came to the rescue of fellow Filipinos,” Roque said in a statement.

Robredo, in her video message aired after President Rodrigo Duterte’s State of the Nation Address, praised the “bayanihan” spirit of Filipinos amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

She also attributed the success of the Office of the Vice President’s projects to those who volunteered and partnered with her office.

“We made it through the past year and a half only because of the strength we gave each other. I face you all today to say: Thank you very, very much,” she said.

Roque said Robredo’s initiatives were “welcomed” by the administration.

“[W]e are in no way diminishing her efforts in this trying time. Any contribution, including policy recommendations from the political opposition, to ensure the successful fight against the pandemic, is much appreciated,” Roque said.

Also in her address, Robredo said that the government should focus on dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic and not be preoccupied with other matters.

She also called for the passage of laws that focus on solving the country’s healthcare problem and urged the government to be clear in relaying the message that nationwide cooperation is the key to dealing with the pandemic.

Roque reiterated Robredo’s call, saying: “Now is the time to focus on Covid-19 and help the national government in achieving population protection; so together, we will recover and have a happy Christmas and a better future for all Filipinos.” John Ezekiel J. Hirro