Some doctors voiced out their continued struggles since the start of the pandemic in response to a government official’s outrage recorded during a virtual meeting.
Based on a report by the Inquirer, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque lashed out at a unidentified group of doctors who opposed the supposed easing of restrictions in Metro Manila.
Roque’s outrage reportedly happened during a Zoom meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) last Tuesday, September 7.
Among the attendees are government officials and Dr. Maricar Limpin, president of the Philippine College of Physicians.
Video clips of it were released by Inquirer reporter Marlon Ramos on Twitter on September 10.
In one of the recordings, Roque appeared to be telling off the group of medical workers to recognize the government’s pandemic response efforts.
“We employed the ‘entire government approach’ thinking about economic ramifications, thinking about the people (who) will go hungry. It does not mean that we care any less,” the presidential spokesperson said.
“And let me point out to everyone, this group, they have never said anything good about the government response,” he added.
WATCH: Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque blew his top during the online IATF meeting last Tuesday after a group of doctors opposed the government’s decision to relax the quarantine protocols in NCR despite the soaring COVID-19 cases. pic.twitter.com/1KZlSrzPuh
— Marlon Ramos (@iammarlonramos) September 9, 2021
In a separate video, the Palace further went on to emphasize that the government is just trying to achieve total health.
“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? Are you saying that only medical front-liners 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!” he said.
“How dare you think that we are not considering steps to prevent the loss of lives?” he added.
WATCH: A furious presidential spokesperson Harry Roque tells a group of doctors, “Do not sit there as if you’re the only ones right… How dare you think that we are not considering steps to prevent the loss of lives?” pic.twitter.com/Cnuzz3JSWv
— Marlon Ramos (@iammarlonramos) September 9, 2021
Another person could be heard trying to calm the official down. It was reportedly Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III.
According to Ramos, sources told him that Roque was talking to Dr. Limpin who earlier appealed to the IATF not to make a shift to the general community quarantine.
As of writing, Metro Manila is under the modified enhanced community quarantine until September 15.
How doctors responded
Some doctors reminded Roque about their persistent struggles and concerns since the start of the health crisis that the government had not addressed, including the lack of benefits.
Dr. Gia Sison was among those who expressed it on Twitter.
“They never handled the pandemic well from the very start and they expect praise? They’re super out of their mind,” Sison said.
“We were on our own from the beginning from begging for PPEs up to the very present of health facilities being unavailable already. I have no trust anymore,” she added.
Sociology professor Ash Presto cited the delay in hazard pay and other benefits.
“More on frontliners not getting their benefits which should include: meal allowance, special risk allowance, active hazard duty pay, accommodation and transportation allowance,” she said.
Another doctor also stated that the group in the meeting was only being truthful.
“Truth is there is really nothing good with government response. The group is just being truthful and honest with facts. He obviously can’t accept hence, this meltdown,” wrote Dr. Harold Henrison Chiu.
One user, meanwhile, recalled Roque previously being prioritized at the Philippine General Hospital after he contracted COVID-19 earlier this year.
“Huwag mong kalimutan na madami kang pasyenteng na overtake sa room prioritization nung nagka COVID ka,” the user said.
Other users defended Dr. Limpin. They slammed Roque’s unprofessional and disrespectful behavior towards her and the PCP.
“She got COVID-19 while taking care of her patients. Her family got COVID-19 and her mother died. Until now she couldn’t grieve because there are lives to be saved. This is how the government repays her service,” Dr. Winlove Mojica said.
A non-government organization called United Frontliners Philippines also condemned Roque’s move.
“Our health experts, medical doctors, health care workers doesn’t deserve this kind of treatment and government,” they said.
“We don’t need officials who treat those who tirelessly work at the frontlines with such a rabid, foul-mouthing, unrespecting & totally uncalled for behavior. Enough!” they added.
The Alliance of Health Workers, the Filipino Nurses United and other groups of HCWs also joined to condemn Roque’s outrage.
They stated that the government should be willing to listen instead of insulting them.