‘Understandably, the health workers were “taken aback and surprised” by the President’s explosive reaction. But it was a credit to them that they remained calm and rational in their response to Duterte’s rant.’
PRESIDENT Duterte was a pathetic figure in last Sunday’s live response to the appeal of health workers for a “time out” to assess the government’s response to the COVID-19 crisis which they said was “failing miserably.”
Past midnight, he sounded like a broken record as he again professed his love for China, his hate for the NPAs, his faith in the uniformed personnel, even the Iglesia ni Kristo for more than 45 minutes.
It was painful listening to him because it was clear he didn’t get what the health workers were saying in a clearly worded appeal read by Philippine Medical Association (PMA) president Dr. Jose Santiago during an online press conference headed by the Philippine College of Physicians (PCP) on Saturday.
The health workers asked that Mega Manila, which was then under general community quarantine with some 70 percent of the businesses starting to open up, return to the more rigid enhanced community quarantine for two weeks from Aug. 1 to 15 “to reline our pandemic control strategies.”
The health workers took note of the alarming increase of COVID cases that have now breached the 100,000 mark despite the four-month lockdown.
What was Duterte’s response?
He talked about “revolution” and faulted the health workers for holding a press conference.
“Now, if you think that this can be solved by revolution, then by all means, we start it. Mas gusto ko. Kung magsabi kayo, nagtaas na kayo, revolution, revolution, go ahead because I would be calling all people who love their country to come forward and work for the people.”
Understandably, the health workers were “taken aback and surprised” by the President’s explosive reaction. But it was a credit to them that they remained calm and rational in their response to Duterte’s rant.
In a two-page letter of clarification signed by PCP president Mario Panaligan, they pointed out: “If you closely review (our) 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,”
The call, Panaligan said, “was for the (DOH) and IATF to provide the (healthcare) workers a fighting chance in the war against COVID-19 and prevent unnecessary fatalities – nothing more.”
Duterte also said: “Iyong mga health workers na hindi connected sa gobyerno, we will try to help. But there is no need for you and for the guys ng ano ng 1,000 of you telling us what to do publicly. You could have just wrote us a letter.
“Next time, you can just ask for an audience. Pero huwag ho kayo mag-sigaw-sigaw ng revolution niyo. Alam mo, sa totoo, alam niyo hindi ninyo ako kilala talaga. Magsabi kayo revolution, then ngayon na. Go ahead. Try it. Sirain natin itong bayan. Patayin natin lahat ng may COVID.
“Is that what you want? We can always end our existence in this manner. Hindi naman kayo natatakot siguro. Alam namin ‘yon na hindi kami matakot sa ganun. But to send a message na without giving government a chance.”
As one doctor said, if they just wrote a letter, how long would it get the attention of the President? The issue is urgent.
Then he resorted to the solution he knows: threats and martial law:
“.. I am asking Secretary Lorenzana to mobilize, call a mobilization of doctors and nurses and those who can help kung iyan maa — iyan na lang ang maasahan namin, or I might outrightly call for all reservists to work. Iyan na lang. Ang COVID nandiyan. Wala mang kasalanan. Ni ikaw wala kang solusyon eh. What are you babbling about? What’s the solution?
“If you have COVID, we have been frank before with you and still I am frank until now. And that is also the answer of all leaders of government. Anak ka ng… Do not so… So as to be heard. I don’t… I don’t… I don’t give a f*** if you gather 1,000, 2,000.
“But bear in mind na kayo mismo kung ipa-take over ko kayo, kayo, kayong lahat, ako ang magbayad sa iyo, i-take over ninyo. Tignan ko kung ano ang lagay ninyo. We are not incompetents here because we are not doctors. Eh kayo ang dapat ang mag-ano… You should do the soul — the soul searching. Not us. Kayo ang makatulong sana at wala kayong ginagawa kung ‘di magreklamo. Ikaw naman ang… What can I — what can I do? I’ve always been praying to God for the vaccine. Alam ninyo, doktor kayo eh.
“Huwag na nating dramahin ito ng mga pasulat-sulat. At saka itong mga health workers that I said you are bone-weary. Bone-weary is an idiom. It says simply that you are too tired to move. You are beat, ika nga. Bakit kayo hindi nag — pumunta dito na…?
“Tapos kayong nasa gobyerno, a reservist we might call for a mobilization. Lahat. You know, my daughter, Inday Sara, ‘pag ako ang nag-mobilize, mauna ‘yan. I will specifically point out to her as one of those who will answer the…
“Ah, you cannot even — you have no — you have not that luxury of accepting or not accepting. Remember that you are a reservist, you are subject to martial law. Martial law ka talaga. Hindi martial law ng gobyerno, martial law ng disiplina.
“At saka ‘yung mga pulis, mga nurses, be ready to be deployed there. Mga pulis, advise your workers na — ‘yung mga pulis mo na babae, ibaba ninyo lahat, we will train them for about just one or two days. We will select a big auditorium, ‘yung PICC. You come here in the morning, free merienda, masarap na pancit pati ano. Tapos merienda, mag-uwi kayo, and we will tell you what to do. Ganoon lang ‘yan.
“Kung mag-resign kayong mga — magtamad-tamaran kayo? Then we will tell the — we will help you with government personnel and they will work. How many hours a day has? Twenty-four? Oh, I can ask my soldiers to work 28 hours a day — iyong mga sundalo, ‘yung mga pulis. So ganoon.”
The country is in crisis and Duterte just cannot hack it.