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Roque defends gov’t pandemic response, chides health workers in viral IATF meeting video

By Jillian Marielle Tiraña

PHOTO: PCOO

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque was under fire for his outburst against medical frontliners during a recent Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) meeting.

In a viral video uploaded on Twitter by the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s Marlon Ramos,  Roque was seen berating medical frontliners in response to Philippine College of Physicians president Doctor Maricar Limpin’s suggestion to reconsider the government’s decision on easing quarantine protocols in Metro Manila.

“Do not sit there as if you are the only ones right. We’re trying to achieve total health. Who wants COVID to kill people? Are you saying that only medical frontliners are concerned about the health of the people?” Roque asserted, claiming that the government is doing its part to combat the pandemic.

He also said that no one in the government wants a single life lost.“How dare you think that we are not considering steps to prevent the loss of lives?” 

Limpin spoke about the issue in a radio interview on Friday.

"I cannot understand really what brought about the reaction and for me, that is uncalled for remark," Limpin stated, saying that his reaction caught her by surprise since none of her statements could be interpreted as arrogant and she is merely stating facts.

She adds that her intention is just to alleviate the healthcare system.

Roque addressed an apology in a press briefing on Friday, admitting that he got “emotional” towards the issue. He said that he apologizes for his manner of speaking but not for the message he wanted to give out.

"But the message remains clear: Kinakailangan pakinggan din natin ang hanay ng nagugutom." Roque stated.

He also said that he spoke on behalf of poor families who cannot make ends meet due to the imposed lockdowns.