Here is a comparison of two scolding incidents — Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. on medical frontliners and United States President Joe Biden on the unvaccinated.
Two incidents, two different targets of the scolding, and two kinds of reactions.
A leaked video obtained by the Inquirer of a recent Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) meeting showed Roque scolding doctors who opposed the relaxing of quarantine restrictions in Metro Manila. The doctors had feared the easing of restrictions would lead to more coronavirus disease (Covid-19) infections.
Roque was reacting to Philippine College of Physicians president Maricar Limpin when he berated frontliners. Limpin asked that the National Capital Region and other places be placed on enhanced community quarantine (ECQ). “And we would like to request that it should be a hard ECQ, meaning to say it should be a ‘real ECQ,’ not the one we saw last August,” she said. Roque replied in raised voice and in an agitated manner: “Do not sit there as if you’re the only ones right. We’re trying to achieve total health. Who wants Covid to kill people? Are you saying that only medical frontliners are concerned about the health of the people? We all want to save lives. For crying out loud, no one in the government wants a single life lost. No one. How dare you think that we are not considering steps to prevent the loss of lives?”
Here’s Biden scolding the unvaccinated for the surge in Covid-19 cases: “My message to unvaccinated Americans is this: What more is there to wait for? What more do you need to see? We have made vaccinations free, safe and convenient. The vaccine is FDA approved. Over 200 million Americans have gotten at least one shot. We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin. And your refusal has cost all of us. So, please do the right thing. But just don’t take it from me. Listen to the voices of unvaccinated Americans who are lying in hospital beds, taking their final breaths, saying ‘If only I had gotten vaccinated. If only.’ It’s a tragedy. Please don’t let it become yours.”
Unlike Roque’s high-pitched, agitated manner, Biden gave his statement in a slow, calm and urging way. Roque’s targets were medical frontliners; Biden’s was the 25 percent of Americans not yet vaccinated against Covid-19. In a way, Roque scolded fellow soldiers in the battle against Covid-19, Biden sounded a call to arms for those unvaccinated to join the fight and help the country win.
Roque got criticized not only by frontliners but by those on social media who also demanded his resignation. Biden received support mostly, but CNN’s Jake Tapper said he did not think scolding was the approach. Tapper said, Biden “is scolding the people that are being lied to as opposed to the liars.”
There’s a good scolding, one that’s righteous and even admirable. Then, there’s the bad type of scolding. One that is Roque’s.