Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque just lost his sh*t.
This was evident in leaked videos circulating the Internet, which saw a furious Roque launch a tirade during a Zoom meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).
According to the scoop by Inquirer.net, the target of Roque’s ire was Dr. Maricar Limpin, president of the Philippine College of Physicians, who was pleading with the IATF to reconsider their decision to downgrade quarantine restrictions in Metro Manila. The meeting took place before the gov’t rescinded its move to place the region under general community quarantine (GCQ) with localized lockdowns.
The localized or granular lockdowns will allow mayors or governors to quarantine smaller locales such as a barangay instead of entire cities or provinces. The Philippines recently notched a daily record of 22,820 COVID-19 cases, an all-time high, pushing active cases to more than 166k.
Limpin’s remarks visibly irked Roque, who argued that the doctor and her association should recognize the government’s efforts to preserve people’s lives and the economy.
‘Do not sit there as if you’re the only ones (who are) right. We’re trying to achieve total health. Who wants COVID to kill people?‘, ranted Roque. Are you saying that only medical frontliners are concerned about the health of the people? No one in gov’t wants a single life lost’.
‘We employed an ‘entire government approach’, thinking of economic ramifications, thinking of people who would go hungry. That does not mean we care any less.’
The former human rights lawyer also accused the medical group of supposedly always being opposed to the govt’s response.
‘Let me point out to everyone. This group, they have never said anything good about government response’.
Roque’s tirade apparently did not sit well with the medical group, as well as with other senior government officials, who called it ‘unwarranted’ and ‘uncalled’ for.
In an interview with Rappler, Limpin said she felt shocked and insulted, adding that she was merely laying down the facts about the current state of the country’s healthcare system.
Online, people and other doctors have also called out the disrespect, demanding that Roque should apologize. The Presidential Spokesperson has since apologized for the incident, saying that both parties were emotional, and debates are necessary so the IATF can provide the best policies for the people.
Roque also said that his disapproval of Limpin’s recommendation for a hard lockdown is born out of concern for the poor, who have been struggling to earn a living during the quarantine.
‘Nagalit po talaga ako kasi sa tingin ko, panahon na po marinig ang inyong mga boses ng IATF’, explained Roque.
‘Tama na po ang lockdown, magtatagal po talaga ang COVID, hindi lang sa Pilipinas, kundi sa buong daigdig. Hindi po ibig sabihin na habang nandiyan si COVID, hahayaan na natin magutom ang ating mga kababayan’.