MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday berated grumbling health care workers after several medical groups and personnel urged the government to give them at least 2 weeks of “breathing space” by shifting Mega Manila back to a strict lockdown.
In a late night televised briefing, Duterte said the government acknowledges that health workers are tired and overwhelmed by the increasing number of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases in the country.
They, however, have to remain patient as the government is doing everything it can to solve the problem.
"I fully understand why our health workers would like to ask such a timeout period. They have been in the frontline for months and are exhausted," Duterte said.
"To our health workers, this is a war that we have been trained to fight. This is a profession that you, all of you who are educated and trained to face such challenges. You are a frontliner in the battle because you are learned in this field," he added.
According to Duterte, the government has nowhere to run and needs the help of the medical community in fighting the pandemic.
"Habaan na lang ninyo 'yung pasensiya ninyo and your fervor na ikaw ay isang medical na tao, at tiwala kami sa inyong kakayahan. We are aware that you are tired, that you have worked even beyond 24 hours a day," he said.
"Pero ito kasi 'yung...wala kaming matakbuhan. Kayo 'yung nag-aral, kayo 'yung may alam," Duterte added.
He, however, said there was no need for the health workers to raise a spectacle about their issues.
"Ngayon, kung sabihin ninyo kung anong mabuti and you raise the spectacle of 'yung agony ninyo, and you treat it as if you're ready to stop to work. 'Wag naman ganoon kasi kawawa naman 'yung mga kababayan natin. Sino na lang aasahan namin?" Duterte said, adding that instead of publicly expressing their concerns, they can instead ask for an audience with the president.
"'Yung mga health workers na hindi connected sa gobyerno, we will try to help. But there is no need for you and for the guys, 1,000 of you, telling us what to do publicly. You could have just wrote us a letter. Lahat naman ng sinasabi ninyo, sinusunod namin... Next time, you can ask for an audience. Pero 'wag ho kayong magsigaw sigaw, rebolusyon, rebolusyon," he added.
Duterte also said health workers should do a soul-searching and think of a solution to the problem because they are the experts.
"We are not competent here because we are not doctors. Kayo ang dapat ang mag-ano. You should do the soul-searching, not us. Kayong makatulong sana at wala kayong ginagawa kung magreklamo, what can I do?" he said.
"So do not try to demean government. You are criticizing, you demean the government, your own government," Duterte added.
In the same briefing, Duterte announced that he is again placing Metro Manila Laguna, Cavite, Rizal and Bulacan on modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) following the recent surge in COVID-19 cases.
The MECQ will be from August 4 to 18.
Health workers' groups earlier asked that the Philippine capital revert to stricter quarantine measures to give exhausted frontline medical personnel a breather. They did not call for a revolution as alleged by the president.
An expert from the University of the Philippines warned that at current rate of Covid-19 cases, the country will have more than 150,000 cases by the end of August.