MANILA - The head of a medical group that drew Malacañang Spokesperson Harry Roque's ire in a government meeting earlier this week said on Saturday that President Rodrigo Duterte should fire the official for his viral rant attacking the country's health workers.
Dr. Maricar Limpin, head of the Philippine College of Physicians, said Roque should resign out of delicadeza.
The government official lost his temper during a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force Tuesday after Limpin asked authorities to reconsider its decision to loosen restrictions in virus hotspot Metro Manila, where hospitals are already at full capacity due to the overwhelming number of COVID-19 patients.
"Sa akin po personally, this is a personal position, I don't think that it is up to me or to anyone of us na sabihan siya na mag-resign. Siguro kung magre-resign siya, he should do it voluntarily," Limpin told TeleRadyo Saturday.
(Personally, if he will resign, he should do it voluntarily)
She also described Roque's actions as a "great disservice to the President," which is why Duterte should just remove him from his post.
"As a spokesperson of the President, Secretary Harry Roque has to realize that when he talks, and whatever actions he performs, eto po ay reflective ng presidente (it's reflective of the president), and therefore, 'yung ginawa po niya ay (what he did is) a great disservice to the President," she explained.
"Naiisip ko po, mas maganda siguro po talaga kung si Presidente na po ang mag-alis sa kanya sa kanyang position."
(I think that it is better if President Duterte removes him from his position)
Limpin said she was puzzled why Roque reacted that way, most especially when she only described the reality in many of the country's hospitals during the meeting.
She said she had a sleepless night after the meeting.
"That night na ginawa po niya sa akin, hindi po ako talaga makatulog eh. Kasi talagang inisip ko ano ba 'yung nagawa ko, ano ba 'yung nasabi ko, at ano ba 'yung nasabi ni Doc Tony Dans, na maaaring mag-trigger ng kanyang outburst," she said.
(After what happened, I couldn't sleep because I was thinking what I did, what I and Doc Tony Dans said that might have triggered his outburst.)
"At kahit anong gawin kong pag-iisip di ko po maintindihan talaga bakit nagkaganoon po, naging ganoon ang reaksyon ni Sec. Roque," according to Limpin.
(No matter how hard I think, I still cannot understand why it happened, why he reacted that way.)
After public backlash on the viral outburst, Roque apologized to health workers and said he was just "human" who became emotional.
Despite this, however, he said he stands by his message.
"That was the first time that I lost my bearing in an IATF meeting. But as I said, I may apologize and I have in fact apologized for the manner, but never for the message," he said.
Several medical groups are asking for Roque's resignation after what happened, noting that he insulted the people at the frontlines of the pandemic.