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Health sector leaders lambast government pandemic response, call for transparency in Senate probe

By Jose Oscar Magpusao

Leaders of the medical profession and the health sector collectively issued a call to action to improve the administration’s response to the COVID-19 global pandemic and the increasing severity of its effects on the Filipino people.

Entitled “A Collective Expression of Indignation and a Call to Action: From the Members of the Medical Profession and the Health Sector,” the leaders slammed the government’s pandemic response, stating that the global pandemic subjected the Philippines to not only the virus and the death and suffering from it, but also to the “incompetence, insensitivity and corruption of no less than those who are supposed to lead and protect them.”

“The corruption and the total disregard for decency and morality have begun to permeate the Filipino soul. This is not who we are, but this is what we are going to be unless we do something about it now. Impunity has become the norm; the culture that our offspring will imbibe in the years to come is there for all of us to dread. The so-called leaders, voted into office ‘without thinking’, have no more shame - brazen, avaricious, sugapa , with no regard for how the nation would survive! They actually believe that they can go on and on with this delusion of irreproachable power, reflected from their leader who they will eventually dump when the time comes,” they groups said.

The group also expressed their indignation over the failings of the Philippine healthcare system in the statement, as well as the toll it has had on frontliners and medical professionals.

“Exposed and battered beyond any doubt in the past 18 months of the global pandemic, our broken health systems need to be overhauled and invested upon with huge financial resources and human expertise in both science and technology, and the political will of our top leaders to get things done quickly,” they said.

“We cannot go on fighting for every Filipino’s life and health if we cannot work together – because we are afraid, because we are severely handicapped, because we are in pain – physically and psychologically, because our numbers are dwindling. If we say and do nothing, and just accept that our nation’s health will remain in the hands of people who care not for our country but for themselves, then what are we here for?” they added.

They continued by saying in their statement that they were in support of the investigations being conducted by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on the expenditures of the Department of Health, particularly their involvement with Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation.

The Philippine College of Physicians (PCP), along with a number of other medical societies, held a live conference on Monday elaborating on their statement and expressing their outrage for the Duterte administration’s pandemic response and their role in the Senate’s investigations on Pharmally.

“We all deserve to know the truth. Aayawan namin ang anuman tangka na pigilan ang mga testimonya o cover-up ng tootong nangyayari. Kaya kami ay naririto ngayon para manawagan for transparency, expediency, at accountability," PCP President Dr. Maricar Limpin said her opening statements.

During the press conference on Monday, the collection of medical professionals explicitly addressed the government:

“We call on the President not to obstruct the testimony of material witnesses to any investigation,” stated former PCP President Dr. Norbert Lingling Uy.

“We call on all government officials to support the call for truth, endure that the wheels of justice grind swiftly and surely, and provide testimony when sought,” stated former PCP President Dr. Vicente Tanseco, Jr.

“We call on the Senate to complete the inquiry swiftly and with utmost diligence, to get to the truth behind alleged corruption, then file a case before the Department of Justice or Ombudsman at the soonest possible time,” stated former PCP President Dr. Dante Morales.

“We call on the Department of Justice to conduct an immediate impartial and thorough investigation of the case,” stated PCP President Dr. Maricar Limpin; and

“We call on the Ombudsman to file the appropriate cases against all those responsible for any corruption,” stated former PCP President Dr. Anthony Leachon.

“Public office is a public trust. Public officials should be accountable to the people; they should serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty, and efficiency; they should act with patriotism and justice, and lead modest lives,” the group said in their statement.

Past and current leaders of medical societies were all signatories of the document. Their full statement and the leaders involved can be seen below:

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