MANILA — Malacañang on Monday questioned health workers on why President Rodrigo Duterte was the “last to know” about their demands for improving the country’s pandemic response.
Health workers called for Metro Manila to be placed under stricter lockdown measures in an online seminar over the weekend, hours before Duterte received their letter with this demand, said his spokesperson Harry Roque.
"Ibinigay natin lahat ng gusto ng mga frontliners dahil kinikilala natin kayo bilang bagong bayani," Roque told ABS-CBN’s TeleRadyo.
"Pero tingin ko dapat sagutin nila: Why was the President the last to know about their demands at ipinaalam muna nila sa buong mundo bago nila ibinigay kay Presidente iyong gusto nilang mangyari?" He said.
(We gave everything the frontliners wanted because we recognize you as new heroes. But I think they should also answer this: Why was the President the last to know about their demands and they let the whole world know first before they relayed to the President what they wanted.)
Duterte on Sunday announced that he would put back Metro Manila, Laguna, Cavite, Rizal and Bulacan on modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).
The President, however, also told health workers to “do the soul-searching” and “do not try to demean government” by criticizing it.
“Next time, you can ask for an audience. Pero 'wag ho kayong magsigaw-sigaw, rebolusyon, rebolusyon," Duterte said.
(Don’t shout, stage a revolution.)
Explaining Duterte’s revolution remark, Roque noted that videos of administration critics singing the Filipino version of the memorable “Les Miserables” tune “Do You Hear the People Sing” were shared online after Vice President Leni Robredo and Sen. Franklin Drilon criticized the government’s pandemic action.
“Sunod-sunod kasi ang pangyayari na parang imposible naman na parang hindi sila related… Free speech po iyan pero hindi rin natin matatanggal iyong konteksto ng pangyayari,” said Roque.
(The events came one after the other that it’s seemingly impossible that they are not related. That’s free speech but we cannot remove the context of what happened.)
The official also denied that the President was sensitive to criticism.
"Hindi naman po siya maramdamin. Totoo po iyan, talaga namang ang mga kritiko ng gobyerno pagsasamantalahan itong pandemya,” Roque said. “Sabi lang niya, nako sige na fast forward na natin. Gusto n’yo talaga n’yan, gusto ninyong palitan ako, gusto n’yong magrebolusyon, ngayon na.”
(He is not sensitive. That is true, there are just government critics who want to take advantage of the pandemic. He only said, go ahead let’s fast forward. You really want than, you wan to replace me, you want to revolt, do it now.)
Health workers only want to help the government with their suggestion and did not intend to demean authorities, the Philippine Medical Association said earlier Monday.