MANILA - A group of health workers said Monday it never called for a revolution when it urged authorities to bring back stricter pandemic lockdowns, contrary to a remark by President Rodrigo Duterte.
Medical workers made their suggestion in an online seminar because it was not that easy to get an audience with the country's leader, said Dr. Antonio Dans, spokesperson for the Healthcare Professions Alliance against COVID-19.
"Emergency po ito... Gaano kadali bang kumuha ng audience with the President? Ganoon lang ba iyon, ‘pag sinabi namin, may audience kaagad? Mabuti kung may isang buwan kaming mai-schedule. Eh 'di, ano nang nangyari ‘pag ganoon?" Dans told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.
(This is an emergency. Is it that easy to get an audience with the President? Is it just like that, we say we want an audience and we get one immediately? It's good if we have a month to wait for a schedule. But if we did that, what would have happened?)
"Hindi ho kami nagtatawag ng rebolusyon. Saan ba nanggaling iyon?" added Dans.
(We are not calling for a revolution. Where did that come from?)
Duterte over the weekend heeded the suggestion of medical workers and announced that Metro Manila and 4 neighboring provinces would return to the second strictest out of 4 lockdown levels from Aug. 4 to 18.
However, he 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.
Duterte was the "last to know" the demands of the health workers, which they bared online over the weekend, hours before their letter reached him, said Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque.
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.)
Roque 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, naku, 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 that, you want 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.