What really happened: Doc speaks up on viral Roque outburst at IATF meeting

Benise Balaoing, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 10 2021 04:55 PM | Updated as of Sep 10 2021 04:56 PM

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MANILA – A doctor who was at the receiving end of Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque’s now-viral outburst in an Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases meeting has spoken up on what happened that night.

Philippine College of Physicians president Dr. Maricar Limpin said she and epidemiologist Dr. Antonio Dans met with the IATF on Tuesday night, September 7, to relay the healthcare sector’s concerns about the then-planned shift to loser quarantine measures for Metro Manila on September 8.

“We really decided to talk to the IATF to present the true state of the healthcare system. We wanted to convey the message to the IATF that the healthcare system is already overwhelmed at this point in time of the pandemic,” she told ANC’s “Dateline Philippines.”

“When we heard that the NCR is going to be placed under GCQ, so many of our fellow healthcare workers were actually asking us if we [are] not going to do anything. Because a lot of us were already afraid that we might not be able to really take care of our countrymen and that the healthcare system will eventually collapse.”

“That is our main intention: to help government make the right decision,” she said.

Limpin said she was surprised by Roque’s reaction after her presentation, noting that she did not expect it of any government official.

She, however, was no longer able to speak to Roque after that.

“I wanted to respond to that reaction of Secretary Roque but the members of the IATF decided na to have a recess. And then we were asked to leave already,” she said.

Limpin said she does not understand why the presidential mouthpiece reacted the way he did.

“Parang what I can remember is that we are being called arrogant, na parang sinasabi naming kami lang ang may alam, and kami lang yung talagang nagmamalasakit, but we did not say it.”

“I cannot think of any statement sinabi namin yung ganoon, na kami lang ang nakakaalam at kami lang ang nagmamalasakit, because I think everybody, all of us, even you, even the media are concerned about this. So parang, we cannot actually lay claim to any of the things that he said.”

She also belied Roque’s claim that healthcare workers do not recognize government efforts to curb the spread of the pandemic.

“We recognize the efforts of government, so that is why we are trying to reach out to the government para matulungan namin sila. So that they will be able to know, coming from us, the soldiers in this war, para makapag-decide sila, make the right strategies.”

Limpin said Roque’s reaction was “uncalled for.” She also stressed that healthcare workers are concerned about the impact of the pandemic on the economy.

“I think the reaction is really uncalled for. If ever tingin niya mali kami, or if ever tingin niya we are not considering the economic, but you know we’re actually considering also the economic impact.”

“It’s just that ‘pag nag-collapse ang healthcare system natin, and so many more people will die from this pandemic then I think wala rin yung economic, wala rin yung helping the economy na binabanggit ni Secretary Roque,” she said.

She also said Roque could have conveyed his emotions in a better way.

“If you do that, you will not be understood by people who will hear you,” she said.

Roque has since spoken up on his viral outburst.

"Kung meron po akong na-offend sa aking pananalita, well, humihingi po ako ng abiso. Pero kinakailangan lang pong pakinggan natin ang boses ng mga hindi naririnig sa IATF, ang hanay ng naghihirap at nagugutom," he said.

Limpin said, however, that forgiving Roque is not up to her.

“It is not up to me to forgive. I think ang outburst niya, for me, is not really directed against me, it is directed against the whole of the healthcare workforce. When we went there we were representing the healthcare workforce,” she said.

She also said it might be a good idea to replace Roque as presidential spokesperson given what has happened.

“Personally, parang kung ganyan ang magiging spokesperson ni Presidente, siguro dapat palitan na lang siya ni presidente.”