Several health workers on Friday lashed back at presidential spokesperson Harry Roque for castigating a group of doctors who warned that relaxing lockdowns could lead to a further spike of COVID-19 infections.
Dr. Leni Jara of the Shape Up to Defeat COVID-19 group said Roque should apologize to medical professionals for his outburst.
“Puwede ba? Tumigil ka. Sumusobra ka na. Binastos mo na ang mga nagtatrabaho at ang mga nagliligtas ng mga pasyente. Binastos mo! You should apologize to them,” she said in an online media forum.
(Could you please? Stop it. You’ve gone overboard. You disrespected those working and saving patients. You disrespected them!…)
She said that even if Roque was feeling stressed, there is no excuse for ranting against health professionals.
Data from the Department of Health as of April 25 showed 17,365 health workers in the country have contracted COVID-19. Eighty-eight of them have succumbed to the illness.
In videos obtained by the Inquirer, Roque lost his temper during a meeting after the Philippine College of Physicians asked the Inter-Agency Task Force to reconsider its decision to loosen restrictions in Metro Manila.
For the past week, the Philippines has been logging record-high infections as it continues to battle the more contagious COVID-19 Delta variant.
“Do not sit there as if you’re the only ones right. We’re trying to achieve total health. Who wants COVID to kill people?” Roque reportedly told PCP president Dr. Maricar Limpin during the Zoom meeting.
“Are you saying that only medical frontliners are concerned about the health of the people? We all want to save lives. For crying out loud, no one in the government wants a single life lost. No one!”
“How dare you think that we are not considering steps to prevent the loss of lives?” he added.
Roque explained the government was employing a whole-of-government approach, considering economic activities and the people who would go hungry because of the lockdowns.
Alliance of Health Workers president Robert Mendoza said Roque should step down for insulting medical professionals at the frontlines of the pandemic.
“Siguro panahon na rin magsabay-sabay na po mag-resign ‘yung mga Cabinet member na hindi po talaga kaaya-aya sa mga mamamayang Pilipino,” he said.
(Maybe it’s time for Cabinet members to resign who are rude to the Filipino public.)
Mendoza said doctors were only giving out suggestions on how to improve the government’s COVID-19 response, which has been accused of responding inadequately to the pandemic.
A group of nurses, meanwhile, said Roque is not a “good example” of someone who holds such a high position.
Filipino Nurses United president Maristela Abenojar said Roque should have listened to the sentiments of health workers, who are mentally and physically exhausted from the still-raging pandemic.
She said Roque was unworthy of votes if he seeks a seat at the Senate in the 2022 elections.
“Kasi alam kong tatakbo ka bilang senador. Hindi maganda na ang magiging mambabatas ay may ganiyang attitude,” Abenojar said.
(Because I know you will run as senator. It’s not good that a lawmaker has such attitude.)
Reporting by Albert Rovic Tan