Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte dared medical societies to stage a “revolution” against him as he slammed them for going public with their criticisms of his government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a late-night address on Sunday, August 3, he said he welcomed such a “revolution” since this would give him an excuse to exercise presidential powers to quell it.
“Next time, huwag ninyo akong parinigrinigin ng revolution. Naku, Diyos ko. Iyan ang mas delikado sa COVID. Eh kung mag-revolution kayo, you will
give me the free ticket to stage a counterrevolution. How I wish you would
do it,” said Duterte.
(Next time, don’t say “revolution.” That’s more dangerous than COVID-19. If you mount a revolution, you will give me a free ticket to stage a counter-revolution. How I wish you would do it.)
“Huwag kayo magsigaw-sigaw, ‘revolution.’ Magsabi kayo revolution, then ngayon na. Try it. Patayin natin lahat ng may COVID-19. Is that what you want? We can always end our existence in this manner,” fumed Duterte.
(Don’t shout “revolution.” You say revolution, then do it now. Try it. Let’s kill everyone with COVID-19.)
“I’m not threatening, but I want you to try it. I dare you, do it,” he added.
His rant against the medical community took much of his more than one-hour speech, revealing his outrage against 80 medical associations, which warned that health systems were overwhelmed and the country was losing its battle against the pandemic.
Duterte took it badly that the medical associations held press conferences and gave out press statements listing down recommendations to improve government efforts. Their appeals made headlines in all major news outlets.
“There is no need for you and for the guys, 1,000 of you, telling us what to do publicly. You could have just wrote (sic) us a letter,” said the President, complaining about how doctors were “sending out a message without giving government a chance.”
Duterte claimed that “rampaging” doctors were crying out for a “revolution.”
He saw the health workers’ distress call as an accusation of incompetence, which he did not take well.
“I don’t give a fuck if you gather 1,000 or 2,000. But bear in mind that if I ask you to take over, I will even pay you. Let’s see how you will fare. We are not incompetent because we are not doctors. You should do the soul-searching, not us. Kayo, makatulong sana. Wala kayong ginagawa kung ’di magreklamo (You could be helping but all you do is complain),” said Duterte.
In the same speech, the President acknowledged the sacrifice and exhaustion of doctors and nurses, and agreed to some of their recommendations. But he also described their public appeal as a “spectacle” that let down Filipinos who are depending on medical workers.
“Wala kaming matakbuhan, kayo ’yung nag-aral, kayo ’yung may alam…. You raise the spectacle of ’yung agony ninyo. You treat it as if you’re about ready to stop to work, huwag naman ganoon kasi kawawa ang mga kababayan. Sino’ng maasahan namin?” said Duterte.
(We have no one else to turn to. You were the ones who studied, you are the experts…. You raise the spectacle of your agony. You treat is as if you’re about ready to stop to work. Don’t do that because it’s our people who will suffer. Who will we turn to?)
Besides asking for health frontliners not to lose hope and to “stretch their patience,” Duterte said the pandemic is a “war you’ve been trained to fight” and medicine a “profession that all of you were educated and trained [for].”
Despite his rant against the medical community, Duterte gave in to some of their demands.
By the end of the meeting, he had approved additional benefits for health workers, like P10,000 to P15,000 “for every healthcare worker that gets sick,” risk allowance of an undisclosed amount for private sector healthcare workers, life insurance, free transportation and accommodations, and “free and frequent” testing, according to Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque.
The Chief Executive also greenlit the hiring of 10,000 medical professionals to augment the COVID-19 workforce and the calling to active duty of military reservists. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.