MANILA -- President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday honored healthcare workers who died while fighting the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
Duterte said doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers who died of COVID-19 are lucky because they died for the country.
"May mga doktor na, nurses, attendants, namatay. Sila 'yung nasawi ang buhay para lang makatulong sa kapwa. Napakasuwerte nila. Namatay sila para sa bayan," he said in a televised message.
Duterte said it is a great honor to die for one's country.
"Yun ang dapat, ang rason na bakit tayo mamatay. 'Wag tayong mamatay sa ibang rason, nasagasaan ka lang at wala ka namang ginawa," he said.
"It would be an honor to die for your country, I assure you," Duterte added.
The president said that securing the facilities for the health sector is among his administration’s priority during the ongoing national emergency.
“We are marshaling and deploying the resources of government to provide our frontline health workers with everything they require so they save as many lives as possible. We are now procuring medical supplies, devices, and PPEs, about one million medical protective items are being acquired right now, with the government and the private sector working together to purchase or produce the necessary quantities,” he said.
Duterte said that the national government is currently ramping up its capacity to test more broadly “to take a fuller and more accurate picture of the spread of COVID-19 in the country.”
“We will also build, operate, and accredit more medical facilities and laboratories in the coming weeks.”
As of Sunday, 12 Filipino doctors have died fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, an official of the Philippine Medical Association said.
Dr. Oscar Tinio, chair of the association's commission on legislation, also estimates that more than 5 percent of the country's health workers are also currently on quarantine due to the nature of their work in directly dealing with the disease.
Duterte addressed the Filipino nation as the lockdown of Luzon reaches its halfway point.
Luzon was placed on a month-long lockdown until April 12 to arrest the spread of COVID-19. People were told to stay at home, mass transportation was suspended, and food and other supplies were regulated.
Officials have yet to comment on possibly extending the lockdown, with many hopeful that the country could contain the situation by April 12.
As of Monday, the Philippines has a total of 1,546 confirmed COVID-19 cases. Of this number, 78 have died while 42 others have recovered.