MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday night expressed his gratitude to the country’s health experts responding to the battle against COVID-19 and its reported new strain.
Duterte thanked the medical experts who joined him and the task force at the Malacañang briefing to help clarify issues surrounding the B.1.1.7 variant found in the United Kingdom, which was reportedly more infectious.
“I’d like myself to address the people and to the nation that we are indebted by the presence of the following persons who contributed a lot on what we have discussed and we need to improve now,” Duterte said.
Among the names he read out were the names of the following medical experts:
- Dr. Marissa Alejandria
- Dr. Marc Edsel C. Ayes
- Dr. Celia Carlos
- Dr. Althea de Guzman
- Dr. Rolando Enrique,
- Dr. Jaime Montoya
- Dr. Annalisa T. Ong-Lim,
- Dr. Cynthia Palmes-Saloma
- Dr. Mario Panaligan
The President went on saying that those were the people the public should not forget, and even joked that some of them might even run as senators.
Duterte reiterated the importance of health experts, whose recommendations were implemented by the government in the fight against COVID-19.
“We have with us in this meeting Filipino doctors who are really concerned with the welfare of their countrymen. They are here to help us out because we are not medical persons. They contribute and we just listen and implement, in more ways than one, the recommendations,” said Duterte, who at one point earlier this year criticized health workers who requested for a “timeout.”
Among those present in the meeting but were not mentioned by the President were:
- Dr. Katherine Ann Reyes, associate dean for research of the UP College of Public Health
- Dr. Camilo Roa, Jr., Pulmonary Medicine of the Manila Doctors Hospital
- Dr. Edsel Salvana, member of the technical advisory group
- Dr. Ofelia Saniel, Professor Emeritus of the UP College of public Health Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics
- Dr. Rontgene M. Solante, chairman of the Adult Infectious Disease Tropical Medicine of the San Lazaro Hospital
- Dr. Socorro B. Zarate-Escalante, coordinator of the World Health Organization
The experts earlier in the day cautioned the government against imposing a new set of lockdown and travel restrictions, saying it would not be sustainable in the long run.
The approach for the new variant, experts said, should remain the same but it should be anchored on aggressive monitoring for travellers and stricter implementation of minimum health protocols.