Doctors group to Duterte: No intention to humiliate gov’t, asking only for ‘fighting chance’ vs COVID

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 03 2020 04:16 PM

MANILA — The Philippine College of Physicians on Monday sent a letter to President Rodrigo Duterte clarifying the group's intentions for calling for an enhanced community quarantine in Mega Manila.

“It was not the intention of the media forum to humiliate the administration and the IATF. The call was for the DOH and IATF to provide the HCWs (health care workers) a fighting chance in the war against COVID and prevent unnecessary fatalities - NOTHING more,” the PCP said in a letter sent to Malacañang and made available to media.

They are responding to Duterte’s comments on Sunday criticizing health workers for allegedly raising a “spectacle” about their issues. Duterte said the doctors could just have raised their concerns in a letter to the government.

The PCP pointed out that they did send a letter to the Department of Health to ask for help.

“Lest it be forgotten by our health authorities, the PCP sent a letter to DOH sometime in April 2020 requesting that test kits be reserved and used on the HCWs who have been instructed to go on duty on a two-week rotation,” the group said.

Monday's letter, signed by PCP President Dr. Mario Panaligan, said that while they “highly appreciated” the President’s quick response, they wanted to clarify that they only wanted to “assure the highest quality of care needed for the moderate to critically ill patients we expect to rise in number when the health system becomes less than ideal.”

The group said they were “taken aback and surprised” when Duterte said that while they are indispensable, they are also irreplaceable.

“If you closely review the virtual conference on August 1, there was never a call for a revolt nor was there any threat of leaving patients on their own since our oath instructs us to first do no harm to anyone who needs our help,” Panaligan wrote in response to Duterte's statement that doctors should not be calling for a revolution.

Panaligan pointed out that doctors are unlikely to give demands or ultimatums. However, while they “patiently held on as soldiers in battle,” it has been three months since they submitted their letter to the DOH and they have not received an adequate response.

“These valid requests if they were granted early on would have made our harrowing experiences bearable but for some unexplained reason, it was left unheeded by the IATF and DOH,” he said.

Panaligan said their “empty cries had to be made known somehow.”

He explained that if they had known that the President was not made aware of the situation of health workers on the ground, they would have asked to meet with him in private.

The group said they have long been a partner of the DOH and the government.

“Going forward, we are glad that your office is open to suggestions and that you prioritize the safety of our health care workers. Similar to your wish, we also pray that the COVID vaccines become available sooner than later,” the group said.

In a separate statement, the PCP welcomed the government’s decision to place Metro Manila, Laguna, Cavite, Rizal and Bulacan on modified enhanced community quarantine.