Cabaero: Christian and unchristian

Nini Cabaero
·3 min read

NINE months ago, we were the ones in need. Nearly 500 medical practitioners and other volunteers from other provinces came to help in the Covid-19 response in Cebu City amid a surge in infection cases.

This time, it’s Cebu City’s turn to help.

In our time of need, medical doctors, including specialists, nurses, health workers and contact-tracing volunteers came to Cebu City in July 2020 when the number of people infected by the Sars-CoV-2 that causes the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) went up and hospitals were close to becoming overwhelmed by the number of people needing medical attention.

That was the time President Rodrigo Duterte said Cebu City was the hotspot for Covid-19 and he reprimanded Cebuanos for being hardheaded in refusing to comply with quarantine rules and health protocols.

Medical practitioners from neighboring provinces and cities, the government’s Doctors to the Barrios program, Philippine Society of Medical Specialists, and the medical team from the Armed Forces of the Philippines did the Christian act of offering their services to Cebu City.

Last week, it became Cebu City’s turn to help the National Capital Region (NCR) or Metro Manila and the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal as they saw sharp increases in the number of infection cases and those with severe Covid-19 were being turned away by hospitals.

A total of 50 doctors, nurses and medical technologists left for Metro Manila last week as the first batch of the augmentation force to the NCR Plus. Another batch is being processed for deployment within the week.

There’s no question it was the proper and Christian way to assist fellow Filipinos needing medical advice and treatment while hospitals and isolation centers were full. What was not necessary was the send-off ceremony and the political pose during picture-taking when they could have been sent off immediately to start helping at the NCR Plus without delay.

But the ceremony didn’t take away the significance of the volunteerism that these medical workers showed. Who knows? When our time of need returns, we may be able to get help again.

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“Unchristian.” That was how presidential spokesman Harry Roque described questions in the Monday press briefing on how he was able to get a hospital room when others were turned away or placed in tents outside hospitals that were already filled.

He had to use the word twice as another journalist persisted and asked the question again. It was Roque’s way of brushing aside the question as one not worth answering. He said the President promised government officials who become sick they would get immediate medical attention. He left it at that.

There was nothing wrong with the question. He could have answered it and somehow assured the public that there are protocols to hospital admission and he was fortunate he was granted hospital care under the same protocols. He acted as though the question itself was an insult.