MANILA – Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque apologized Friday for his “emotional” behavior against a group of medical professionals who made a pitch to retain Manila under hard lockdown.
This, after a leaked video of Roque during a recent Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) meeting showed him scolding doctors who opposed the relaxation of quarantine restrictions in Metro Manila amid the spike in coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) infections.
“Unang-una po, kinukimpirma ko po na tayo po’y naging emosyunal at pasensiya naman po kayo at tao lamang (First and foremost, I confirm that I became emotional. And I apologize. I’m just a human),” Roque said.
He admitted that he became emotional when Dr. Maricar Limpin, president of the Philippine College of Physicians and Dr. Antonio Dans, convenor of the Health Care Professionals Alliance Against Covid-19, appealed for the continued hard lockdown in Metro Manila.
He, however, denied that he berated them during the meeting.
“Hindi po ako nagmura. Naging emosyonal po ako (I did not curse. I was just emotional),” Roque said. “Now, apology? ‘Yung mga na-offend ko sa manner, I apologize kung na-offend ko kayo sa manner (I apologize to those who got offended by my manner of speaking).”
Roque said he merely got “mad” because he could not afford to see more Filipinos suffer from hunger amid the pandemic because of the stricter quarantine measures.
“The message remains clear. Kinakailangan naman po, pakinggan din natin ‘yung hanay ng nagugutom (We have to listen to those who are enduring hunger),” he said.
Roque said he just wanted to emphasize during the recent IATF-EID’s meeting with health professionals that the government’s goal is to balance health and economy amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
He added that he is only concerned about Filipinos who continue to bear the brunt of more stringent quarantine protocols.
“Ang pakiusap ko lang po wag po natin isipin na ang mga desisyon ay parang mga clinical decision lamang. Ito ay nakakaapekto sa buhay, lalung-lalo na ng mga nagugutom at naghihirap na Pilipino (My only appeal is let us not just think of clinical decisions. It can affect life, especially of those Filipinos who are suffering from hunger and poverty),” Roque said.
The IATF-EID has “provisionally” approved the guidelines on the pilot granular lockdowns in Metro Manila.
This means that each city and municipality in Metro Manila will be under localized lockdown that has four levels.
Roque said local government units in Metro Manila must follow protocols set by the National Task Force Against Covid-19 with regard to granular lockdowns, depending on the alert levels that will be raised within their respective jurisdictions. (PNA)