Gordon wants probe into state of Philippines' health system after doctors appeal for 'time out'

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 03 2020 05:48 PM | Updated as of Aug 04 2020 12:54 AM

National Kidney Transplant Institute workers conduct a silent protest over current health and working conditions in the hospital in Quezon City on July 25, 2020. The workers cite rising COVID-19 cases among health workers without free swab testing, improper distribution to no proper work benefits, and understaffing due to resigning workers from the hospital. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA (UPDATED)- Sen. Richard Gordon on Monday urged the Senate to investigate the state of the Philippines' health system, after a group of doctors appealed for a "time out" as the number of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases continues to rise in the country.

Gordon filed Senate Resolution No. 483, calling for such probe, a day after the Philippine College of Physicians asked the government to reimpose stricter quarantine measures to ease congestion of COVID-19 patients in hospitals.

"It behooves the Senate to listen to the plight of our doctors and other frontliners, and consequently to the suffering of our people, to find out what is wrong so we can alleviate their burden," Gordon said in his resolution.

"We must strengthen the ranks of our healthcare workers who have heroically stayed behind to fight," he said.

There is also a "need for an accounting" of various agencies involved in the implementation of COVID-19 related policies, Gordon said.

"There is a need to reassess our health situation in the Philippines and develop new strategies... that will enable us to inform and better equip our citizens," he said.

While he acknowledged that the country's health workers are already "bone-weary", President Rodrigo Duterte reprimanded those who allegedly "demean" the government, saying they are supposed to help public officials instead of "doing nothing but complain."

In a late night public address on Sunday, Duterte also scolded doctors and nurses, saying they should have "asked for an audience" instead of supposedly calling for a revolution, an allegation denied by the health workers' groups.

"Hindi ho kami nagtatawag ng rebolusyon. Saan ba nanggaling iyon?" Dr. Antonio Dans, spokesperson for the Healthcare Professions Alliance against COVID-19, said Monday.

(We are not calling for a revolution. Where did that come from?)

'BOTCHED'

As Metro Manila and nearby areas prepared to revert to the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) on August 4-18, opposition senator Risa Hontiveros hit the government's failure to provide details on what it's doing to combat COVID-19.

In her privilege speech Monday, Hontiveros said the Duterte administration should come up with a clear roadmap in fighting the virus, especially that cases in the country have already soared to more than 100,000, emphasizing that Metro Manila and other provinces’ return to MECQ must be used in introducing a more pronounced health response against the virus

“Any lockdown is not effective on its own. Kailangang may kasamang malakas na health response," she said.

“It is clear that the government botched the previous months of the lockdown. Huwag natin hayaang masayang ulit ang dalawang linggong pagbabalik-MECQ."--With a report from Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News