President Duterte appealed to the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to deploy members of their medical corps to help hospitals amid the rise of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases.
Duterte made the statement as he noted that some public and private hospitals are seeing more of their medical workers being infected by the disease.
In his pre-recorded public address late Wednesday, September 22, the President said many health workers are again getting sick while hospitals are being overwhelmed with coronavirus patients.
“Our government workers are being impaired – our healthcare workers are getting sick, our hospitals are being filled with brim, and more of our people are getting sick and dying from COVID-19,” he said.
“Many of our hospitals and public hospitals — public and private, are already running at full capacity. Naka-quarantine ang mga health workers nila (Their health workers are quarantined) so they cannot accept COVID admissions anymore,” he added.
Duterte appealed to the PNP and AFP to help augment hospitals by sending members of their medical corps.
“We have a dearth of supply of the human resource. Kaya I’m appealing to, well, one is that I am ordering the medical corps of the [AFP] and the [PNP], please place your human resources on deck,” he said.
“I have to use my — a little of my influence sa kanila to convince them. I do not want to order na ganoon, kasi pangit ‘yan eh. Makikiusap lang ako na tulungan ang mga kababayan (because it doesn’t look good. I’m appealing to them to help our people),” he added.
The President said that he can only count on the AFP and the PNP during times of crisis.
“Eh kung wala na akong mahila dito, hila doon, eh kayo na kasi wala na akong ibang maasahan (I cannot get anybody so I have no one to rely on),” he said.
“Sino pa man ang matawagan ko (Who else can I count on)?” he added.
In response, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the surgeon general has already coordinated with St. Luke’s Medical Center and that the AFP has already deployed two nurses to the facility. He added that it is gathering more medical frontliners from the provinces.
Last week, Duterte hoped that the government will be able to recruit more health care workers and allied health workers as the country continued to address the increasing number of COVID-19 cases, saying the pay is actually “good.”
“Marami niyan (We will be able to recruit many) because the pay is good, actually,” he said.
“Kaya baka (That’s why I think maybe) we can convince more people to join us in this fight because I think the lure of a good salary is there,” he added.
However, the President assured health workers that the government will work on increasing their salaries to get them to stay amid the ongoing crisis and to hire more medical professionals.
“We will see what we can do. We will try to look for the money to have more recruits joining this fight against COVID,” he said.
Early this month, it was reported that volunteer doctors at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) decided to not renew their contracts, further emphasizing the institution’s staffing crisis.
In response to the situation, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said the government is doing its best to speed up the graduation and examination of the country’s would-be doctors to address the shortage of manpower in hospitals amid the ongoing pandemic.