Filipinos threw a senior Palace official’s “un-Christian” comment back at him after he explained how he got admitted to a COVID-19 referral hospital in the country’s pandemic epicenter without difficulty.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque maintained that asking how he was able to secure a bed in the Philippine General Hospital (PGH), a state-owned health facility operated by the University of the Philippines-Manila, was “unchristian.”
“Kaya siya unchristian, para bagang ‘pag ikaw ay nakakuha ng kuwarto sa panahon ngayon e, mayroon kang ginawa na nang-isa ka sa kapwa mo,” he said in his Tuesday press briefing.
The spokesperson denied using his influence to be admitted. He claimed he was confined in the hospital due to his bout with COVID-19 which caused his oxygen levels to “fall to 90,” lower than usual.
“Ang lahat ng nag-aalaga sa’kin ay taga-PGH. Mga kasama ko sa faculty… at matagal ko na silang doktor sa mula’t mula pa. Miyembro ako ng asosasyon ng mga ipinanganak dito na tumutuong sa PGH,” he said.
Roque used to be a law professor at UP Diliman prior to entering government service.
“Pero I can assure you po, gaya ng lahat ng ibang ospital, ang basis for admission po, kinakailangang moderate at severe cases. Sa aking kaso po, I was in bad shape when I was admitted,” Duterte’s spokesperson added.
He was reportedly spotted inside PGH’s Department of Pay Patient Services.
The Palace official said that he would be transferred to a temporary treatment and monitoring facility (TTMF) by Wednesday.
This type of facility takes in COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms to free up hospital beds for those with moderate to severe cases.
Roque was previously called out by social media users for tagging a reporter’s question on how he got access to a hospital bed as “unchristian.”
A newly-ordained priest told him to refrain from “using Christianity as argument” to hide his “own selfishness (and) incompetence.”
“Kung Christian ka pero nanlalamang ka ng tao, hindi ka totoong tagasunod ni Kristo,” Father Fiel Pareja tweeted before.
“Isang malaking insulto sa mahabang pila ng mga maysakit at naghihingalo na nagtyatyaga sa init ng araw at hamog,” he added.
Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo likewise slammed the spokesperson’s answer and said that government officials must learn to be transparent in answering the public’s questions.
“It was uncalled for na bansagan mo ang mga taong nagtatanong nang maayos naman at legitimate naman ang question… Papaano naging ‘un-Christian’ ‘yun? It was an innocent question,” he said in an interview.
“Ang public figures dapat maging transparent sila sa pagsagot sa mga tao. ‘Yan ang problema. ‘Pag nagtatanong, sa halip na sagutin ang tanong, ad hominem ang kanilang sagot, titirahin ang nagtatanong. Hindi naman tama ‘yun,” Pabillo added.
Ad hominem is when an attack is directed against the person instead of what the person says.
Some online users criticized Roque as he defended his “unchristian” remark anew. They defined how an “unchristian” individual acts.
“What’s ‘un-Christian’ is how Roque jumped out of the queue, skipping others who are in dire need of medical attention. Using his position as advantage is itself un-Christian in every aspect,” a Twitter user commented.
“Totoo naman hindi palakasan dyan sa PGH kasi hindi naman sports ‘yan. Pero ang ginawa niya PAKAPALAN. Very christian,” another online user wrote with sarcasm.
A different Filipino reminded the spokesperson that the root word of “Christian” is Christ.
“I don’t think the Christ I read in His Book would rebuke the legit question posted by the innocent man. So the comment ‘un-Christian’ is founded on how Christian is defined. That’s it! (Matthew 7:21),” he tweeted, referring to the question posed by a reporter to Roque.
Christian is defined as “of or belonging to the religion based on the teachings of Jesus Christ.”
As an adjective, it is “used to describe a person or action that is good, kind, helpful, etc.”