Duterte slams critics, chides frontliners
A health worker from the Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center raises her fist during a ‘snake rally’ yesterday to demand better protection for medical frontliners following the death of a colleague.
Krizjohn Rosales
Duterte slams critics, chides frontliners
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - August 4, 2020 - 12:00am

‘Les Mis’ song from critics sparked revolution remark – Palace

MANILA, Philippines — For airing their grievances in public, doctors and health workers were chided on Sunday by President Duterte, who accused them of trying to “demean” the government.

The President appeared to have fired a broadside at the health workers while promising them additional benefits and granting their plea for a “timeout” and tougher quarantine restrictions for Metro Manila.

But Duterte’s tirade over a supposed revolution, according to his spokesman Harry Roque Jr., was directed at opposition leaders and critics in general, including those who prepared and sang a protest song – a Filipino version of a song in “Les Miserables” – during the President’s State of the Nation Address in July.

Last Saturday, the Philippine College of Physicians held a virtual press conference to urge the government to place Mega Manila under the strictest lockdown measure for two weeks so the authorities would have time to improve their strategies against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

The group also said the Philippines is “waging a losing battle” against the pandemic and that the medical frontliners are already “burnt out with the seemingly endless number of patients trooping our hospitals for emergency care and admission.”

Duterte agreed to place Metro Manila, Bulacan, Laguna, Cavite and Rizal under a stricter modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) from Aug. 4 to 18 and vowed to provide them more benefits. The group’s press conference, however, did not sit well with the President.

“Now if you say what is good for us and you raise the spectacle of your agony, you treat it as if you are about ready to stop to work. Don’t do that because our countrymen will suffer. To whom shall we turn?” Duterte said in Filipino during a televised address last Sunday.

“But to go almost on a... not really a rampage–but an outrage, as if you are angry, don’t do that because you know we are all working here,” he added.

Duterte then dared critics of the government’s pandemic response to launch a “revolution.”

“We do not forget you. There would not have been need for you to go into... raising your hands as if you are saying revolution, revolution. Now, if you think that this can be solved by revolution, then by all means, we start it. I prefer that... Go ahead because I would be calling all people who love their country to come forward and work for the people,” the President said.

“The health workers who are not connected with the gobyerno, we will try to help. But there is no need for you and for the guys... telling us what to do publicly. You could have just (written) us a letter. We are complying with everything that you say... You want me to buy something but one of my pockets is empty because we have suffered economically and individually,” he added.

Asked to explain Duterte’s remarks, Roque noted that the letter of the Philippine College of Physicians was released to the public and to the media even before it was sent to the President.

“It was clear to the President that there is no need for a splash. They should have provided him the opportunity to respond to the letter before the publicity,” Roque said at a press briefing yesterday.

He cited the successive criticisms against the government by opposition figures Vice President Leni Robredo and Sen. Franklin Drilon as well as the release of the Filipino version of the “Les Miserables” song, “Do you Hear the People Sing?” The Filipino version of the song titled “Di Niyo ba Naririnig” was released as a protest song hours before Duterte’s fifth SONA last week.

“So the President said if those who are taking advantage of the pandemic want to replace him through a revolution, he said they can go ahead,” Roque said.

“I am just repeating the words of the President. There is no drama in his words. Do not ride on the pandemic. They can launch a revolution if they want to,” he added.

Roque clarified that Duterte’s remark about launching a revolution was directed at critics who sang the protest song and was distinct from his message to frontliners.

“There is no issue there. The President just expressed his view,” he added.

In his televised message, Duterte also raised the possibility of mobilizing military reservists to augment the government’s human resources in dealing with the health crisis.

Duterte said military reservists do not have the “luxury of accepting or not accepting” deployment as they are subject to what he called “martial law” discipline.

“So it’s time to give more to the people. All nurses in the uniformed sector will have to work, and we can always ask for volunteers. Then I am asking (Defense) Secretary (Delfin) Lorenzana to mobilize, call (for a) mobilization of doctors and nurses and those who can help,” Duterte said.

“I might outrightly call for all reservists to work. COVID is there. It’s nobody’s fault,” he added.

Duterte expressed confidence that his daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio would accept any decision of his to tap armed forces reservists as part of his administration’s pandemic response. Carpio is an Army reservist with a rank of colonel.

“My daughter, Inday Sara, if I start the mobilization, she would be the first. I will specifically point out to her as one of those who will answer the (call),” he said.

The President also revealed that his partner Honeylet, a former nurse, has volunteered to be a frontliner.

Duterte said nurses from uniformed services would also be trained so they can help implement measures intended to contain the virus.

Secretary Lorenzana said medical reservists should also be called to active duty for two years.

“And then we propose also that to beef up our health services command to be able to allow us... to enlist at least 10,000 people composed of doctors, nurses, medical technologists, medical aide men, and this will become our reserve for any eventuality,” Lorenzana said.

“It would be good Mr. President, we can give them orders, they can work overtime and they will be under the military control,” he added.

Duterte also expressed confidence that a vaccination process would be completed in a week.

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