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Harry Roque's Outburst Goes Viral: Health Workers Cry Foul, He Says Sorry

It's uncalled for, says top doctor.
by Pia Regalado and Arianne Merez
Sep 10, 2021
Photo/s: Office of the Presidential Spokesperson

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque's outburst that was captured in a viral video was uncalled for, the top doctor who was the subject of his flare-up said Friday.

Roque's audience included health workers, who were opposing the government's decision to loosen quarantine restrictions. President Rodrigo Duterte's mouthpiece said in the viral video that was released by the Inquirer: "This group has never said anything good about the government response!"

"Actually hindi ko alam talaga kung bakit nagalit si Sec. Roque when I was just stating kung ano 'yung state of the healthcare system. Sinasabi ko na overwhelmed na ang healthcare system at this particular time of the pandemic," Philippine College of Physicians president Dr. Maricar Limpin told CNN Philippines.

"We think na we have very good intentions in going there, wala naman kaming sinabi na hindi totoo, we just stated facts. 'Di ko maintindihan 'yung reaction ni Sec. Roque and I think from my point of view, it was really uncalled for," she said of the Zoom meeting.

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Limpin said she only suggested that authorities go back to the drawing board to recalibrate existing strategies to see what ccould be improved. She said she did not leak the video.

"If ever there were any criticisms, it should be taken constructively, not negatively. I think for a government offical, 'yung ganyang klaseng reaction, these are uncalled for. Because if they can do that to a professional like us, kami na talagang considered soldiers in fighting the pandemic, can you just imagine kung ang nagsasalita ay hindi kami? Parang hindi po tama."

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Roque on Friday admitted that he became “emotional” during the IATF meeting, saying the outburst was in behalf of Filipinos who were unable to work because of the lockdowns.

Tayo po ay naging emotional at pasensya naman po kayo, tao lamang,” he said.

Kung mayroon po akong na-offend sa aking pananalita, humihingi po ako ng abiso, pero kinakailangan na pong pakinggan natin ang boses ng mga hindi naririnig sa IATF, ang hanay ng naghihirap at nagugutom,” he said.

Roque said he got mad because he thought it was time for the IATF to hear the sentiments of Filipinos robbed of job opportunities due to lockdowns.

Nagalit talaga ako dahil sa tingin ko panahon na po na marinig ang inyong boses ng IATF. Tama na po ang lockdown. Magtatagal po talaga ang COVID hindi lamang sa Pilipinas kundi sa buong daigdig,” he said.

'Roque should resign'

Other healthcare workers called for Roque's resignation following the outburst, saying it was unbecoming of a public official who eyes a Senate seat to react violently to suggestions to contain the pandemic.

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Instead of berating health workers, Roque should be the mediator to help the officials come up with a decision to end the pandemic, Filipino Nurses United (FNU) President Maristela Abenojar said in Facebook Live event on Friday.

"Hindi magandang ehemplo si Spox Roque kasi kung ikaw ay nasa ganyang posisyon, dapat pinapakinggan mo, iniintindi mo kung saan nanggagaling ang sentimyento nung mga manggagamot, o nurses o health workers na nagsasalita," she said.

"Kung ikaw ay nanggagatong lang at baseless lang kung magsalita, hindi ko sigurado kung karapat-dapat ka ring iboto kahit sa Senado sa darating na eleksyon... Hindi maganda na ang isang mambabatas ay may ganyang attitude."

"Siguro panahon na rin magsabay-sabay na po mag-resign 'yung mga Cabinet member na hindi po talaga kaaya-aya sa mga mamamayang Pilipino," said Alliance of Health Workers president Robert Mendoza, pointing out how the former human rights lawyer stopped fighting for the rights of others.

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"Puwede ba? Tumigil ka! Sumosobra ka na. Binastos mo na ang nagtatrabaho at mga nagliligtas ng mga pasyente. Binastos mo. You should apologize to them. You owe them an apology," said Dr. Leni Jara of SHAPE UP.

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