Robredo: Differences on pandemic policy no reason to be rude to doctors

Robredo: Differences on pandemic policy no reason to be rude to doctors

Robredo: Differences on pandemic policy no reason to be rude to doctors

MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo on Sunday criticized presidential spokesperson Harry Roque for his outburst against doctors at a pandemic response meeting earlier this week that was caught on video that has since gone viral.

Roque has acknowledged "getting emotional" at the meeting, video from which was obtained by the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Speaking on her weekly radio show aired over dzXL, the vice president said that, as a government official, Roque — the president's spokesperson who also speaks for the coronavirus task force — had no right to respond the way he did.

"If there is another person you are talking to who has a different view of things, you have no right to react the way Secretary Roque did, right?" she said, pointing out that the point of meetings is to hold discussions.

"If you don't agree, it's okay to say you don't agree. But you have no right to bully, be rude."

Roque berated doctors at a meeting of the coronavirus task force discussing possible quarantine statuses.

“We employed the ‘entire government approach’ thinking about economic ramifications, thinking about the people (who) will go hungry. It does not mean that we care any less!” a visibly-irked Roque was quoted as saying in reports.

"Let me point out to everyone," Roque also said while pointing his finger. "This group, they have never said anything good about the government's response."

The meltdown was supposedly in response to Dr. Maricar Limpin, Philippine College of Physicians president, who appealed to the task force to put Metro Manila under a hard Enhanced Community Quarantine for two weeks.

The Palace has been cool to the idea of more large-scale lockdowns because of the impact they have on the economy, saying also that these should only be done as a last resort.

IATF is for convergence of sectors

Robredo pointed out that the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases is composed of government officials and experts representing a number of different sectors.

"Let's just go back to why there is an IATF. So there is an IATF for the convergence of your different agencies, your different experts, your different sectors. When there is convergence, that's his point of view."

"Your economists, your doctors look at things differently. Your doctors, you think differently. You're really going to expect it to come from different sources so you're going to expect that there are incompatible visions," she said.

READ: Palace trying to divert conversation on flagged pandemic spending, Robredo says

Robredo hits proposal to jail Filipinos 'commenting' on SALNs

In the same radio show, Robredo also slammed the proposal of Ombudsman Samuel Martires to jail Filipinos commenting on the Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth of public officials, calling the proposed jail time "unbelievable."

"Isn’t it the Ombudsman who is supposed to investigate everything implicating public officials in corruption?" the vice president asked as she claimed that Martires was doing the opposite of his mandate.

"Now he is being used [by the administration] to get back at to those who criticize the government."

Martires, at a House hearing last week on the budget for his office, made the proposal to impose "stringent penalties" on anyone commenting on the SALNs of government officials, which he has said are being "weaponized" to sully the reputations of those in office.

"No person should be allowed to comment on the SALN of a particular government official or employee," Martires said on Friday.

"What I'm proposing is to make stringent penalties that anyone who makes a comment on the SALN of a particular government official or employee must likewise be liable for at least an imprisonment of not less than five years," he added.

The Office of the Ombudsman has introduced policy changes — like restricting public access to SALNs and halting the conduct of lifestyle checks on government officials — that groups like the Right to Know, Right Now Coalition called "a step back in transparency and accountability."

RELATED: Anti-graft office that restricted SALN access has stopped doing lifestyle checks on officials

Robredo previously challenged President Rodrigo Duterte to release his own SALN to show transparency in the face of investigations over audit reports on government spending.

The Palace has taken the position that the president is only required to file his SALNs with the Office of the Ombudsman. Making it public would be up to the ombudsman, it has said.

The Office of the Ombudsman has meanwhile restricted access to officials' SALNs, saying SALN filers need to allow disclosure before these are released.

A SALN is a list outlining a government official's properties and assets from which their net worth can be calculated. obtained Robredo's SALN in July through a Freedom of Information request with her office, which the latter granted "in the interest of transparency" after just one working day.

The Vice President herself has released her SALNs on her own throughout her term.

"They seem to be forgetting why we are required to submit our SALN. Because if you're a public official who doesn't hide anything, there's no problem for you to come out yourself," Robredo also said.

READ: SALN release better than Duterte promise to lead audits, Robredo says

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