Health Secretary Duque denies rejecting Chinese help against COVID-19

Secretary Francisco Duque and Teodoro Locsin. Photo: ABS-CBN News/Malacañang Palace
Secretary Francisco Duque and Teodoro Locsin. Photo: ABS-CBN News/Malacañang Palace

Health Secretary Francisco Duque today denied that health officials turned down an offer of help from Chinese doctors as alleged by the nation’s top diplomat.

Duque today said that Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin was mistaken when he said in a now-deleted tweet that the Department of Health, or DOH, rejected assistance for the campaign against COVID-19.

Read: Health Secretary Duque in self-quarantine, being tested for COVID-19

“That’s not true. We already clarified with him that’s why Secretary Locsin deleted his tweet. We are waiting for those 12 experts,” Duque told radio station DZMM, adding that they are looking for translators as well as accommodations for the Chinese specialists. “They will not practice here; they won’t treat anyone, but they will give expert advice based on their experience during the Wuhan lockdown, where they managed patients. They have learned a lot which could help us in managing our own patients.”

Locsin alleged in a Saturday tweet that the DOH blocked the entry of doctors sent by China’s ambassador to the Philippines, Huang Xilian.

“I ASKED AMB. HUANG to send us Chinese doctors. Interpreters are no problem: Chinese General Hospital and the Metropolitan Hospital…will readily supply them. BUT DOH is blocking their arrival. DON’T PISS ME OFF. LET THEM IN,” Locsin wrote.

His tweet is no longer available online.

Image: Department of Health
Image: Department of Health

Meanwhile, Duque denied that they are offering a measly PHP500 (US$9.80) daily allowance for health workers who volunteer one month at a government hospital. He said that was what they paid volunteers in an anti-measles campaign last year.

However, contrary to Duque’s statement, Coconuts Manila found that figure stated clearly on the DOH’s website just last week. It said only PHP500 will be paid to volunteers on the Department of Health’s volunteer portal. That information could no longer be found on the website.

Netizens were angered upon learning about the allowance, which became public when the DOH on Friday put out the call for volunteer doctors and nurses.

After his denial, Duque seemed to contradict himself by telling DZMM the government would discuss increasing the allowance for health workers.

“We will talk later about how we could increase that. You know that no amount of money can match the huge role of our health workers,” he said.

 

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