MANILA, Philippines – Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Friday apologized as he explained his outburst against a group of doctors during a recent meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID).
In a Palace briefing, Roque said he got ‘emotional’ after a group of doctors suggested the imposition of a two-week hard lockdown to contain the uptick in infections.
A leaked video of the meeting showed Roque raising his voice and reproaching Dr. Maricar Limpin, president of the Philippine College of Physicians, and Dr. Antonio Dans, convenor of the Healthcare Professionals Alliance against COVID-19, during the virtual meeting.
“Kinukumpirma ko po na tayo po ay naging emosyonal, pasensya na po kayo, tao lamang, dun po sa rekomendasyon ng dalawang doktor, si Doctor Limpin at Doctor Dans na mag-impose ng hard ECQ lockdown, at naging emosyonal rin po si Dr. Limpin at napaiyak. Doon po ako naging emosyonal,” Roque said.
He said he became emotional as he spoke on behalf of Filipinos who have been suffering from hunger and poverty due to hard lockdowns.
“I had to speak for those na hindi po naririnig sa debate, kung dapat bang maglockdown or hindi, ipagpaumanhin ninyo po,” he said.
Roque said this was the first time that he lost his bearing during an IATF meeting but he stressed that he did not curse at the doctors.
He only stressed the need to find a balance between health and the country’s economy.
“But as I said, I may apologize and I have in fact apologized for the manner, but never for the message,” he said.
“I stand by the message,” he added.
The Palace official said IATF meetings are supposed to be “secret” and that debates usually happen to ensure that the task force is making the right decision.
Limpin, for her part, said she was surprised at Roque’s reaction when they were only presenting their suggestions during the meeting.
She also said that instead of just apologizing to her and Dr. Dans, Roque should apologize to all healthcare workers for his outburst.
“We were there as representatives of the healthcare workforce. And therefore if he has to apologize, he has to apologize to the whole of the healthcare workforce, hindi sa amin lang. Yung ginawa niya is against all of us in the healthcare sector,” Limpin said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)