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Apology sought from Roque over outburst vs. doctors

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque owes doctors an apology over his "rude behavior" toward them, Senator Risa Hontiveros said Friday, amid a leaked video showing Roque scolding a doctor.

“D’yan sa very rude na official na ‘yan, dapat talaga stand in the corner. He owes the doctors an apology,” Hontiveros said in a CNN Philippines interview.

(To that very rude official, he should really stand in the corner. He owes the doctors an apology.)

On Thursday afternoon, Dr. Tony Leachon, former special adviser to the National Task Force against COVID-19, tweeted about a certain Cabinet secretary who “assaulted” the health professionals in the last Zoom meeting of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).

“We deserve an apology for this rude behavior!” Leachon wrote.

In a video post by Philippine Daily Inquirer's Marlon Ramos on Twitter that has since gone viral, Roque was seen scolding doctors while asserting that the government is also doing its part in containing the virus.

“Do not sit there as if you are the only ones right. We’re trying to achieve total health. Who wants COVID to kill people? Are you saying that only medical frontliners are concerned about the health of the people? We all want to save lives," a visibly agitated Roque said in the video.

“We’re 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 has yet to comment on the issue, although in a text message to Super Radyo dzBB, he said IATF meetings are supposed to be "secret."

Limpin 'very surprised'

Dr. Maricar Limpin, the president of the Philippine College of Physicians and who was reportedly the target of Roque's ire, said she didn't know the reason for the Palace official's outburst.

"I cannot understand and very surprised that that is his reaction, wala akong sinabi that can be interpreted as being arrogant," she told Super Radyo dzBB.


She also said Roque's remark was "uncalled for."

"I cannot understand really what brought about the reaction and for me, that is an uncalled for remark," Limpin said.

Dr. Antonio Dans, convenor of the Health Care Professionals Alliance Against COVID-19 (HPAAC), said they were appealing during the meeting against the implementation of the proposed granular lockdown.

"Sana huwag munang mag-granular lockdown kasi hindi pa malinaw sa isipan ng mga tao kung ano 'yan at paano 'yan i-implement. Parang mahirap mag-experimento in a situation like this na umaapaw na ang emergency department," he said.

(We hope the granular lockdown should not be implemented because it is not yet clear to the public what that is and how it will be implemented. It seems difficult to experiment in a situation like this where the emergency department is overflowing.)

"Sana pakinggan 'yung healthcare workers na nasa harapan (We hope health care workers at the frontlines should be heard)," Dans said.

"We are willing to listen, but we hope we are also listened to."

In a press briefing on Tuesday, Roque hit back at health workers who are criticizing President Rodrigo Duterte’s COVID-19 response.

“Di ko alam saang planeta nakatira ang mga health workers na ayaw kay Presidente [I don't know what planet they're on, the health workers who don't like the President],” he said.

Roque was responding to the statement of Medical Action Group (MAG) chairperson Dr. Nemuel Fajutagana, who said that the President and his daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, have no right to run for a national post in May 2022 polls, considering that the government's pandemic response has been marred by issues such as the misuse and underutilization of funds; the snail-paced vaccination rate; and the delayed release of health workers’ special risk allowances.

Roque then said that MAG is a small group and that health workers are largely in favor of the President’s COVID-19 response. —with Jamil Santos/KBK, GMA News