Roque sorry for ‘emotional’ outburst, claims message was on behalf of hungry people
MANILA, Philippines — Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on Friday apologized for getting “emotional” during a meeting of the government’s pandemic task force with medical experts.
During a press briefing, Roque explained himself and his action, claiming that he just wanted to put across a message on behalf of those who experience hunger due to government-imposed lockdowns in response to the public health crisis.
“Yung mga na-offend po sa manner, I apologize. Kung na-offend po kayo sa manner. But the message remains clear, kinakailangan naman po pakinggan rin natin ‘yung mga hanay na nagugutom,” he said.
(To those who were offended by the manner in which I said it, I apologize. If you were offended by the manner. But the message remains clear, we need to listen to the people experiencing hunger.)
He continued: “Unang-una po, kinukumpirma ko po na tayo ay naging emosyonal, at pasensya naman po kayo tao lamang, doon sa rekomendasyon ng dalawang doctor na mag-impose ng hard ECQ lockdown.”
(First, I confirm that I became emotional about the recommendation of the two doctors to impose a hard ECQ lockdown. I’m sorry, I’m just human.)
“Kasi parang importante rin naman po na mapakinggan ‘yung damdamin ng maliliit na tao natin kababayan na nagugutom na po sa parating pag-lockdown,” he added.
(It’s also important to listen to our citizens who experience hunger every time we impose a lockdown.)
In a video obtained by the Inquirer, a visibly irritated Roque raised his voice and castigated doctors for opposing the planned shift to granular lockdowns and calling for a retained hard lockdown or enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) over Metro Manila.
During that meeting, Philippine College of Physicians president Dr. Maricar Limpin warned of consequences if the task force lifts stricter quarantine protocols in the nation’s capital region.
But Roque insisted preventing lockdowns is exactly why the government is fast-tracking the COVID-19 vaccination drive in the country.
“Bakit po tayo maghahard lockdown nanaman? Samantalang kaya po natin pinabilis ang pagproproseso ng pagbabakuna e para makapagbukas ng ekonomiya, magkaroon po ng mas maraming trabaho ang ating mga kababayan,” he said.
(Why should we impose another lockdown? When we are trying to hasten the vaccination so we can reopen the economy and we can give our countrymen their livelihoods back.)
Roque added: “Pakiusap ko lang po, wag po natin isipin na ang mga desisyon ay clinical decision lamang. Ito po’y nakakaapekto sa buhay lalong lalo na sa mga nagugutom at naghihirap na mga Pilipino. Subukin po nating balansehin yung pagbawas sa numero ng COVID-19 at yung pagbibigay ng pagkakataon na maghanap buhay,” he said.
(My request is for us not to make decisions as if it’s only a clinical decision. This affects the lives of many, especially the Filipinos in hunger and poverty. Let’s try to balance between reducing the COVID-19 cases and giving them the chance to work.)
The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases had initially pronounced that Metro Manila would be downgraded to general community quarantine and pilot implement granular lockdowns.