The head of a group of doctors who was recently berated by presidential spokesman Harry Roque for warning that relaxing lockdowns could lead to a further spike of COVID-19 infections rejected the Palace official’s apology, saying it was not sincere.
“Unfortunately, I could not feel the sincerity of his apology,” Philippine College of Physicians (PCP) president Dr. Maricar Limpin said.
“The apology should not be directed to me or to my companion Dr. Tony Dans, but to the entire health force because we were at the IATF [meeting] as representatives of the healthcare workforce,” she added.
Limpin, along with several other groups of health workers, urged the President to fire Roque for his outburst that was caught on video and has been widely circulated online.
“Before you speak, you should get your facts straight. For a presidential spokesperson, it is important that [any comment] should be based on facts, not just on impressions,” she said.
“We hope you will be very conscious of your actions because as a spokesperson, you are representing the President,” Limpin added.
In the video, Roque was seen shouting and wagging his finger at a group of doctors during an online meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) on Tuesday.
The other doctor at the meeting was Dr. Antonio Dans, convener of the Healthcare Professional Alliance Against COVID-19 (HPAAC).
“We were there as representatives of the health care workforce. He has to apologize to the whole of the healthcare workforce, not just to us. What he did is against all of us in the health care sector,” Dans said.
Dr. Leni Jara of the Shape Up to Defeat COVID-19 group demanded that Roque apologize to medical professionals for his outburst.
Alliance of Health Workers (AHW) president Robert Mendoza said Roque should step down for insulting medical professionals at the frontlines of the pandemic.
Filipino Nurses United president Maristela Abenojar said Roque should have listened to the sentiments of health workers, who are mentally and physically exhausted from the still-raging pandemic.
She said Roque was unworthy of votes if he seeks a seat at the Senate in the 2022 elections.
In a press briefing, Roque admitted that he got emotional after hearing Limpin and Dan’s recommendation to impose a two-week hard lockdown.
“I confirm that I got emotional. I am sorry. I’m just human. That’s the first time that I lost my bearing in an IATF meeting, but as I said I may apologize and I have in fact apologized for the manner but never for the message,” Roque said.