The head of a private hospital’s labor group cited Health Secretary Francisco Duque III in a reminder to the public to “wash hands” as a preventive measure against COVID-19.
In an interview with CNN Philippines on October 21, Roldan Jao Clumia, president of the St. Luke’s Medical Center Employees Association, made this remark following his call for the Department of Health to release the still pending benefits of health care workers.
The host Pinky Webb was about to announce a commercial break when Clumia asked her for a few minutes to air his concluding words.
“Yung prayer lang ng mga health care workers sana ibigay na ng pamahalaan ang aming hinihiling na nakapaloob doon sa bayanihan (Bayanihan Heal As One Act). At yung salary grade 50 na P32,000 sana maibigay na din nila para sa lahat ng nurses across the board, sa public and private health care workers,” Clumia said.
“At paalala ko lang din po kasi lagi namang ang ating gobyerno nagpapaalala lang na habang nasa gitna pa tayo ng pandemyang COVID-19, palagi po nating gayahin si Sec. Duque na palagi ng naghuhugas ng kamay,” he added.
A live tweet of Clumia’s last remark soon circulated on social media.
Some users perceived this as throwing shade at Duque, who had has been on the receiving end of criticisms against the administration’s pandemic response.
“Wow appropriately shady,” one user said.
Others quipped Clumia’s comment to be too scathing and savage.
“Yo somebody call the fire department,” one user said.
“Apply cold water to the burned area,” another user wrote.
Some Reddit users, meanwhile, recalled Duque’s previous dramatic spiel during the Senate hearing of DOH’s corruption woes.
“Hoy winarak nyo ang dangal ng mahal na secretary! Hindi lang palagi ang paghuhugas nya, expert sya dyan!” one Reddit user said.
“Breaking news: Duque, winarak ng St. Lukes hospital Assoc. President!” another Reddit user said.
Last August, the Commission on Audit flagged the DOH over deficiencies linked to P67 billion worth of pandemic funds.
Duque got emotional in trying to address these findings to lawmakers.
“Winarak na ninyo kami, eh. Winarak na ninyo ang dangal ng DOH. Winarak ninyo ang lahat ng mga kasama dito,” he said that time.
Amid the widespread call for Duque to step down from his post, President Rodrigo Duterte continued to back him up and even defend his position.
Concerns over quitting health workers
In the same interview, Clumia bared that more than 230 health care workers have already resigned from St. Luke’s hospitals in Quezon City and Bonifacio Global City alone since January 2021.
“Sobrang dami. Hindi natin kaya pigilan ang nurses na magreresign kahit pa tulong tulong kami na makipag-usap sa kanila,” he said.
Clumia said compensation offered to healthcare workers abroad is always more attractive as they remain in demand in a pandemic.
Health workers have yet to receive their meal, accommodation and transportation (MAT) allowances that DOH promised to provide for them.
“Pinagod lang nila ‘yung management namin. Pinagsubmit nila ng requirements pero hanggang sa ngayon wala pong dumating,” Clumia said.
In the same newscast by CNN Philippines, as response to Clumia, Health Undersecretary and spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire pointed out that the funds have already been requested from the Department of Budget and Management.
Many hospitals in different regions, however, have failed to submit their lists of beneficiaries.
“We had an initial list which we thought was complete already but then again, our facilities have been submitting piece-meal, paisa-isa,” she said.