The hardships of front-liners, COVID-19 patientsand other affected Filipinos were juxtaposed with Health Secretary Francisco Duque III‘s dramatic remarks amid corruption woes on social media.
The Commission on Audit flagged the Department of Health over deficiencies linked to P67 billion worth of funds.
In trying to address the findings, Duque got emotional and accused the Commission on Audit of bringing down their morale.
“Winarak na ninyo kami, eh. Winarak na ninyo ang dangal ng DOH. Winarak ninyo ang lahat ng mga kasama dito,” he said at the congressional hearing on August 17.
The embattled official also alleged that the auditing body was being unfair to them.
“Masakit po talaga sa amin ito dahil kami ho ang pangunahing ahensya na humaharap, tumutugon sa panahon na ito. Sabi ko nga sa inyo, nagkasakit na ang mga tao ko, nag-isolate, nagquarantine, may namatay na, pero Diyos por Santo, maawa naman kayo, kayo nga ang pumunta dito at kayo ang gumawa?” he said.
State auditors, however, also raised red flags in assessing funds, expenditures and management of other government agencies under the executive branch. For 2020 alone, it has noted billions worth of deficiencies and irregularities during the pandemic year.
Duque further claimed that COA did not accept explanations that some DOH personnel submitted to them.
“Sabi ng mga tao ko, marami na ngang binigay na mga kasagutan kaso hindi naman daw ina-acknowledge o hindi isinasama sa kanilang mga report,” he said.
“Eh, hindi naman siguro tama ‘to. Tatlong beses na nga raw nag-meeting,” he added.
Having learned of Duque’s impassioned spiel, social media users suggest that it is not only the DOH that is overwhelmed in this health crisis. Worse off are hospital workers attending to emergency cases as well as COVID-19 patients and their families.
Internist Jai Cabajar cleverly expressed this in his tweet.
Duque: Di ako makatulog dahil sa COA 🙁
Mga Pilipinong may sakit at naghihintay sa masisikip na hallway ng mga ospital dahil wala nang kama: ….
— Jai Cabajar (@jaicabajar) August 17, 2021
Other users raised concerns of health workers and other Filipinos who lost their jobs due to the health crisis.
“Pero ang himbing ng tulog mo habang libo-libo ang namamatay at libo-libong mga duktor at nars ang halos mamatay sa pagod sa pag-aalaga sa may sakit dahil sa kapalpakan mo,” one user said.
“Hikahos na hikahos na kami! Pilit nagtitimpi! Nag mask kami! Nag face shield kami! Nag ppe kami! Nawalan kami ng trabaho mapirmi lang sa bahay!” one user commented.
“Wag na wag mong ma-angkin yung mga paghihirap na pinagdaanan ng mga nasa frontline bilang pinagdaanan mo rin, hindi ka kasama. nagpayaman ka lang sa covid-19,” another user wrote.
Some social media users also noted that the criticisms were mainly addressed to Duque, rather than the entire health department.
“DOH means you, Mr. Duque…not the employees. Maybe some of your close allies, too but definitely not those who are devoted employees. It’s just you. Sorry,” one user said.
“Duque is not the DOH and the DOH is not him. People need and appreciate them, not him or his sycophantic leadership. DOH has the public; he has who? Him?” another user commented.
Some Filipinos aired their ire against Duque in the form of sarcastic memes and edited video clips.
Rising cases, running out of hospital beds
As of August 18, the DOH recorded more than 11,085 additional infections, which brought the total to 1,776,495.
This would also be the eighth straight day of five-digit increase in COVID-19 cases, according to some analysts.
There are also 11,628 recoveries, which accumulates to 1,640,721, and 161 had died, which equaled to 30,623 deaths.
The impact of these spikes in COVID-19 cases is evident in the situation of hospitals in the National Capital Region.
Some big hospitals such as the St. Luke’s Medical Center, the Medical City and the Philippine General Hospital have all announced full hospital capacities in their COVID-19 wards or intensive care units.
Some reports on the ground have also shown COVID-19 patients with their families in makeshift reception areas in parking lots and corridors.