Help, not revolution: Healthcare workers answer back to the President
Healthcare professionals from the Philippine College of Physicians, Filipino Nurses United and Healthcare Professions Alliance have spoken against Duterte’s comments
Aug 4, 2020
In President Rodrigo Duterte’s latest national address last Aug. 2, he scolded medical and healthcare workers who asked for stricter quarantine measures. The president consequently warned them against starting a “revolution.”
“Do not try to demean the government. You’re not actually criticizing. You demean my government, your own government,” Duterte said. “Then you threaten a revolution. This is our country. You want us to destroy it? Start it now.”
This comes after the medical society released a call for help to reimpose a strict lockdown in Metro Manila to allow them time for recuperation from exhaustion due to the continuous surge of COVID-19 cases nationwide.
The medical community’s pleas
Since then, doctors and nurses nationwide have retaliated against Duterte’s rants. The Philippine College of Physicians (PCP) released a statement that there was never a call for a revolt from the medical society.
“If you closely review the virtual conference on Aug. 1, there was never a call for a revolt nor was there any threat of leaving patients on their own since our oath instructs us to first do no harm to anyone who needs our help,” said PCP president Dr. Mario Panaligan.
Letter of Clarification addressed to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte pic.twitter.com/D0rbQTXd71
— Philippine College of Physicians (@pcp1953) August 3, 2020
“It was not a call for revolution,” said Jaymee de Guzman, a staff nurse at San Lazaro Hospital in a forum organized by Filipino Nurses United (FNU). “We were asking for your help because you might not be seeing or nobody is reporting to you the real state of health workers.”
Virtual Media Conference of Filipino Nurses United, together with other health organizations about the call for "time out" fro frontline health workers, our views on the Enhanced Community Quarantine and our sharing on true sentiments of health workers, this morning August 3, 2020.Maristela Abenojar
Posted by Fnu Nasyunal on Sunday, August 2, 2020
FNU president Maristela Abenojar also said that the distress calls from the healthcare workers are not for selfish reasons. “We are making an appeal because we want to be more effective in serving our patients. How can we serve the patients if we ourselves get sick? If we ourselves die?” Abenojar said.
Dr. Antonio Dans, spokesperson for the Healthcare Professions Alliance against COVID-19, also said that healthcare workers voiced their concerns publicly because it is difficult to privately meet with the President.
“Gaano kadali bang kumuha ng audience with the President? Gano’n lang ba yun? ‘Pag sinabi namin, may audience kaagad? May isang buwan kaming mai-schedule, e ‘di ano nang nangyari nun ‘pag ganon?” Dans said.
Healthcare workers have been making the same appeal to the government in previous cases, according to Dans. “Kasi kami ho kausap naman namin lagi ang DOH (Department of Health), ang IATF (Inter-agency Task Force), ilang beses na ho kaming nag-present sa implementation task force,” he said. “Kaya lang ano ho, e para sa amin masyadong mabagal ang pag-react e lumalala na yung pandemic so we said ‘Let’s ring the alarm signal.’”
Despite giving the medical community an earful, Duterte heeded their call and placed Metro Manila under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ)—the second to the strictest quarantine classification.
#ANCHeadstart Santiago: MECQ will hopefully lower transmission of virus.
— ABS-CBN News Channel (@ANCALERTS) August 3, 2020
According to Philippine Medical Association (PMA) president Dr. Jose Santiago in an interview with ABS-CBN News, the reimposition of the MECQ will make a “big difference” for healthcare workers. He said that the two weeks will allow them to redefine pandemic control strategies and create a consolidated and definite plan of action.
“As of the moment, we have enough doctors to really man our frontlines and we just have to really limit the transmission of the virus. That’s why the very purpose of MECQ […] is to really limit the transmission of the virus,” he said.
Metro Manila is under MECQ from Aug. 4 to 18. As of writing, there have been 106,330 COVID-19 cases in the country with 2,104 deaths and 65,821 asymptomatic, mild and recovered cases.
Header photo by Richard A. Reyes for Inquirer.net
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