Duterte scolds health experts for trying to ‘demean’ gov’t, claims they’re ‘not doing anything’

<i>Photo: Department of Health / FB, Screengrab via RTVM</i>
Photo: Department of Health / FB, Screengrab via RTVM

President Rodrigo Duterte scolded medical professionals last night for trying to “demean” his government and threatened that he would quash any signs of revolt from their ranks.

Filipino medical professionals on Saturday asked the government to revert back to the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), the country’s strictest form of lockdown, for two weeks. They said they needed a “time out” and the healthcare system has been overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients. The two weeks of ECQ, they said, was also a time which the government could change its strategy in dealing with the ever-growing pandemic, which has claimed the lives of at least 2,000 Filipinos.

Instead of reverting back to the ECQ, Health Secretary Francisco Duque suggested returning to the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) last night, a proposal approved by Duterte. Under the approved guidelines, Metro Manila, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, and Bulacan will be under MECQ from Aug. 4 to 18. The president said reverting back to the ECQ was not possible given that the government “cannot give any more food and money to people.”

Read: ‘Economy will die’: PH Trade Dep’t rejects stricter quarantine as COVID-19 cases top 80k

Duterte, none-too-pleased by the medical workers’ request, said in the cabinet meeting that the workers should have written the government a letter instead of airing out their complaints in public. He also accused them of raising the “spectacle of your agony.”

“You treat it as if you are about ready to stop work. Do not do that to our poor countrymen. Who will we turn to? I am sure that is not in your heart. I am sure that in your despair, I would like to tell you that your government leaves no workers behind. We are doing everything possible to alleviate the situation, to assist our healthcare workers,” Duterte said.

The chief executive even taunted the medical professionals, saying he is ready if they stage a “revolution” that would undermine his administration.

“Next time, don’t come to me with [plans of] a revolution. My God, that is more dangerous than COVID. If you plan on staging a revolution, you will give me the free ticket to stage a counterrevolution. How I wish you would do it…I dare you to do it,” Duterte said in English and Filipino.

The irked president also defended his cabinet, composed of mostly former generals, from critics who have noticed their lack of concrete plans against the pandemic. From his perspective, it’s actually medical workers who are not fulfilling their responsibilities.

“We are not incompetent because we are not doctors…You should do the soul-searching. You should be helping, but you are not doing anything but complain…What can I do? I have always been praying to god for a vaccine,” he said.

“Do not try to demean [the] government. You are not actually criticizing. You demean my government, your own government,” Duterte added.

Under the MECQ, only a few establishments will be allowed to operate at half capacity, including malls. However, the operation of gyms and other fitness studios, as well as public transport, will be suspended.  Interior and Local Secretary Eduardo Año announced that residents will be required to use quarantine passes once again in areas under the MECQ.

As of Sunday, the country’s confirmed COVID-19 cases have hit 103,185. The highest number of new cases as of yesterday were recorded in Metro Manila (2,737 cases), Cavite (463), Cebu (449), Laguna (326), and Rizal (201). Cebu province remains under GCQ.

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