The interview of a doctor detailing the shortage of hospital beds in the Philippine General Hospital prompted some Filipinos to call a senior Palace official’s previous admission to the facility as “unchristian.”
In the televised interview with ANC, Dr. Gene Nisperos, who is working in the tertiary state-owned hospital, said that even family members of doctors “have to fall in line” if they want to be admitted.
“Even among doctors, maybe we would be prioritized because we are the hospital’s staff, we might be prioritized but even our own families… have to fall in line,” he said.
Nisperos also emphasized the importance of strictly implementing protocols when it comes to admitting patients amid the bed shortage suffered by hospitals in Metro Manila due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Because we know that, any one of us, if we skip the line, then everybody skips the line,” he said.
“[If] you put an exception once, then you have to exempt everyone,” Nisperos added.
He also believed that presidential spokesperson Harry Roque “doesn’t look like he was in really dire need of hospitalization at the time when he entered the hospital.”
The spokesperson was admitted to PGH on Saturday after testing positive for COVID-19 the day before. He said that his oxygen level fell to 90, which is lower than usual.
The Department of Health previously said that if one’s oxygen level goes below 90, the individual must be admitted to a hospital already.
Roque likewise has comorbidities that make him more vulnerable to the dreaded disease.
When he was initially asked at a press briefing how he was able to get a hospital bed despite the shortage, he replied that it was an “unchristian” type of question.
Filipinos called him out and insisted that there was nothing “unchristian” about the query. Some of those who responded to his comments were Father Fiel Pareja and Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo.
Pabillo particularly said that government officials must be “transparent” to the public, especially in answering their questions.
The Palace official later on expounded on his “unchristian” comment last Tuesday.
“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,” Roque said.
“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 tumutulong sa PGH,” he added.
The spokesperson used to be a law professor at UP Diliman and a human rights lawyer prior to entering government service.
Broadcast journalist Christian Esguerra of ANC, who interviewed Nisperos, later shared a clip of his conversation with the physician on his Twitter account.
In the video, Nisperos said, “selfishness is very unchristian.”
It was a reference to the spokesperson’s initial response when he was questioned about securing a hospital bed without issue.
— Christian Esguerra (@IanEsguerra) April 15, 2021
Several online users also found Roque’s admission to the hospital “unchristian,” citing that it stems from “self-interest.”
Self – Interest is UNCHRISTIAN!!! https://t.co/PrnM03GhtC
— Wilbert Sy🇵🇭🇺🇸 (@ProfessorUno) April 15, 2021
Personal circumstances make this too close to home for comfort. NAKAKAGALIT. Much more that others have attempted to rationalize this incident as "nagawan lang ng paraan." na para bang yung mga namamatay sa tent/parking lot/etc. eh hindi pilit na "ginaw'an ng paraan". Ang SAHOL. https://t.co/2PPM1QsCQ5
— Paolo Medina MD (@LopaoMD) April 15, 2021
In his press briefing on Thursday, Roque said he would be discharged, citing his press briefing was broadcast “for the last time in PGH.”