Duque thanks health workers: ‘The Filipino people will never forget your heroism’

Mara Cepeda
Duque thanks health workers: ‘The Filipino people will never forget your heroism’

Ben Nabong

The health secretary delivers a heartfelt but somber speech before health workers a little over a month since the Philippines recorded its first COVID-19 case

MANILA, Philippines – Health Secretary Francisco Duque III thanked all health workers on the frontlines of the fight against the novel coronavirus, calling them heroes.

Duque expressed his gratitude during the flag-raising ceremony at the Department of Health headquarters in Manila on Monday, March 16, a little over two months since the Philippines recorded its first case of COVID-19, the disease caused by 2019-nCoV.  

The number has since risen to 140 cases, 12 of which were fatal.  

“Stay strong and keep alert. Keep heart. The Filipino people will never forget your heroism in this phase of great adversity. And may your families relatives and friends continue to understand our solemn oath. I pray with them and the whole nation that we shall overcome,” Duque said. 

“We continue to rely on your heroism in the weeks and months ahead. I also hope to see you in better times to personally embrace and thank you for indeed your manifest sense of heroism,” he added. 

Duque, a physician before he started serving in government, had a somber mood throughout his speech. He opened his address by acknowledging the difficult task of the health sector now, which is suffering from depleting funds as well as low medical supplies and protective gear. (READ: Robredo, OVP partners raise P12.3M for health workers’ protective gear)

“Alam kong pare-pareho tayong pagod at halos abot na sa dulo ang sakripisyo. Itong pagkumusta ko sa inyo ay isa na rin pagyakap at pagsaludo sa lubos na serbisyo [ninyo] sa ating bansa,” Duque said. (READ: LIST: How to help healthcare workers, frontliners during coronavirus pandemic

(I know all of us are tired and our sacrifices are reaching their breaking point. This address is also my way of honoring and saluting your great service to our country.)

He assured his colleagues that the DOH is doing its “leveled best” to keep them protected “despite our limitations.” The health department only has P530 million to spare for its anti-coronavirus efforts. DOH is still waiting on the 18th Congress to approve P1.65 billion worth of supplemental funds.  

“For all the brave and selfless Filpinos working at the frontlines to stop COVID-19, I have a simple message: Maraming, maraming salamat po sa inyo sa inyong wala kupas, walang humpay na paninilbihan,” Duque said.

(For all the brave and selfless Filipinos working at the frontlines to stop COVID-19, I have a simple message: Thank you very much for your undying, unending service.)

President Rodrigo Duterte already declared a state of public health emergency in the Philippines due to the rising COVID-19 cases. He also placed the entire Metro Manila under lockdown and gave the go signal to provinces, cities, and municipalities to put their respective areas under community quarantine as needed.

On Monday, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Duterte also placed the entire island of Luzon under enhanced community quarantine, though its details are still unclear. – Rappler.com

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.