Duterte Cabinet meets to address concerns of health workers

Published August 1, 2020, 8:42 PM

by Argyll Cyrus Geducos

Key members of President Duterte’s Cabinet and some members of the COVID-19 task force met Saturday night to address the concerns of medical frontliners, Malacañang said.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque Jr.(CAMILLE ANTE / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque Jr.(CAMILLE ANTE / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after the medical community appealed to the President to revert Mega Manila to the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) as the number of COVID-19 cases in the country continues to rise.

In a statement, Roque said that executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea convened a meeting Saturday night “to address the concerns of the medical community.”

Joining Medialdea in the said meeting were: Roque, Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Michael Ong, Presidential Assistant for Foreign Affairs Robert Borje, National Task Force (NTF) Chief Implementer Carlito Galvez, NTF Deputy Chief Implementer Vince Dizon, One Hospital Incident Command Chief Leopoldo Vega, Senator Bong Go as Chair of the Senate Committee on Health.

 According to Roque, they will submit their recommendation to President Duterte tonight for his review.

He added that before the said meeting, senior government officials likewise met with the representatives of the Philippine Medical Association, Philippine Nurses Association, and the Philippine Association of Medical Technologists to discuss “the concerns of the medical community amid the challenges of COVID-19.”

In their letter, the medical frontliners said they are waging a losing battle against COVID-19 and stressed that a definitive plan of action is needed to better address the situation. 

In his televised address aired on Friday morning, President Duterte, however, admitted that he had no plan and he only had one when the updates on the China-made COVID-19 vaccine reached his table.  

“The health sector cannot hold the line for much longer,” the medical frontliners wrote in their letter to the President.

“We propose that the two-week ECQ be used as a ‘time out’ to refine our [COVID-19] pandemic control strategies, addressing urgent problems,” they added.

The other concerns of the medical frontliners are:

  • Hospital workforce deficiency
  • Failure of case finding and isolation
  • Failure of contact tracing and quarantine
  • Transportation safety
  • Workplace safety
  • Public compliance with self-protection
  • Social amelioration

Malacañang initially thumbed down the plea of the medical community, saying that the community quarantine was not enough to address the pandemic and that it was time to intensify other strategies like localized lockdowns.

However, on Saturday afternoon, Roque said that President Duterte heard of the call of the medical community and ordered the IATF to “act on these concerns immediately” since they are important in the battle against the pandemic.

“The Palace considers our skilled, tireless, and dedicated healthcare workers as important frontliners in the battle against COVID-19. We are grateful for their immense contributions to heal our people and our nation during these difficult times, he said.

“Your voices have been heard. We cannot afford to let down our modern heroes. This is our commitment,” he added.