Malilong: The unchristian question

Frank Malilong
·2 min read

PRESIDENTIAL spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. complained that it was unchristian to question how he was able to get a room at the government-owned Philippine General Hospital for treatment of a Covid-19 infection, his second.

Indeed, the right to life is a universal human right. At least that’s the theory. When you get sick, you can trust that a hospital will admit you. Stiff penalties await the one that refuses you unreasonably.

Unreasonably. That’s the keyword. It’s important to point that out in the light of so many cases these days where a patient who is seriously ill and thus badly needs confinement dies without even seeing the inside of the emergency room.

We saw that happening here last year. It is happening now in Manila and its neighbors.

The hospitals are overwhelmed. There are no available rooms. The doctors, nurses and other health care workers are overworked. Equipment needed for the criticallly ill are hard to come by. Welcome to the second wave of the pandemic.

The “unchristian question” of how a high-ranking Cabinet official was able to get what has been denied to many others therefore begs to be asked in this light. Is it possible that when a hospital claims that it has no more unoccupied beds, it is lying because it has actually rooms available but they’re reserved for VIPs?

Roque, who has spent the last few years explaining for the President, has been thrust into the unfamiliar role of having to explain for himself. It is uncomfortable but it is necessary because of his exalted position.

Or he can ask PGH to explain for him. What could be unchristian is the insinuation that Roque leaned on someone, using his office to get himself the needed confinement and treatment. Maybe, that was not what took place. Maybe, it just happened that at the time that Roque sought admission, a room became available because the previous occupant died or was discharged.

Again, the question is not why Roque was admitted but how and the only reason why this is relevant is because he is part of the government under whose watch the pandemic occurred and the lack of resources to address it, felt by the less connected.

In fairness to the administration, this dire lack of resources is not exclusive to us. Wealthier and more powerful countries have gone through or continue to go through this experience. Nobody was prepared for the pandemic.

Unlike us, however, their citizens are not known for pulling strings to gain advantage over the others. So when someone manages to enjoy a privilege that is denied others, the suspicion that he pulled strings is inevitable. The question is not about Roque. It could have been asked if it were another official who got himself a room at the PGH.