HomeNewsPhilippine churches respond to medical workers’ appeal for ‘time out’

Philippine churches respond to medical workers’ appeal for ‘time out’

More Catholic churches in the Philippine capital have responded to the appeal of health workers to declare a “time out” amid the increasing number of new coronavirus cases in the country.

At least two more dioceses in Metro Manila announced that they are suspending the public celebrations of the Holy Mass starting August 3 until the 14th.

Bishop Jesse Mercado of Parañaque said Masses will be broadcast live online “for our faithful in their homes.”

“Let this be our little contribution to the huge battle against this pandemic, and we will do this as our manifestation of support for our heroes, the frontliners,” said the bishop.

Bishop Mylo Vergara of Pasig also issued the same directive “in compliance with the government directive to once again revert back to ‘modified enhanced community quarantine.’”

“I am suspending all public celebrations of Masses and other public religious activities in the entire Diocese of Pasig from August 4 until August 14,” the bishop’s his pastoral letter.

“This temporary suspension may not have an impact on the overall COVID-19 numbers but this is our proactive response to be in solidarity with the government, our dear doctors, and medical frontliners,” he said.

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Online broadcasts of the religious celebrations will continue.

“We thank all our medical frontliners for their selfless commitment and dedicated service. Let us support them morally and spiritually through our prayers and sacrifices,” said Bishop Vergara.

Earlier, the Archdiocese of Manila and the Diocese of Cubao also suspended public liturgical services.

Outside Metro Manila, the Diocese of Balanga will also revert to “live streaming” of the celebration of Holy Masses for “public safety” as cases of the new coronavirus disease remained prevalent in the province.

“We desire public safety. Our priority is other’s well-being and their swift and uneventful recovery. We do not want to have regrets in the end,” said Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga.

“Life is more important and valuable. We want everyone to live and thrive,” he said.

President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during a late-night address after holding a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases on August 2. (Photo by King Rodriguez/Presidential Photo)

President rebukes health workers

President Rodrigo Duterte, meanwhile, hit the medical community for publicly airing their appeal instead of “writing a letter” to the government.

“There is no need for you … telling us what to do publicly. You could have just [written us a letter],” said the president in a late-night address on August 2.

At least 80 medical associations have earlier appealed for a “time out,” asking the government to place the entire national capital under stricter quarantine protocols.

As a response, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases led by the Health secretary submitted some recommendations.

The president approved the implementation of another 14-day “modified enhanced community quarantine” in the capital region and in nearby provinces from August 4 to 18.

In his speech, Duterte expressed sympathy to the healthcare frontline workers, saying he understands why the medical community called for “such a time out period.”

“To our health workers, this is a war that you have been trained to fight,” he said.

“This is a profession that you, all of you, and who were educated and trained to face such challenges, you are frontliners in the battle because you are learned in this field,” said Duterte.

He appealed to the healthcare workers “not to lose hope” and to “stretch your patience.”

The president said the country has “no one else to turn to,” adding that the pandemic is a “war” that healthcare workers “have been trained to fight.”

A health worker prepares to attend to patients in a Manila hospital amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Mark Saludes)

A sudden blast of rants

The president, however, stopped reading his prepared speech and began lashing at the medical community, which he accused of staging a revolution against him.

“Now, if you think that this can be solved by revolution, then, by all means, we start it,” he said.

“If you will say revolution go ahead because I would be calling all people who love their country to come forward and work for the people,” said the president.

Duterte noted that the government is “obeying” whatever the medical community was saying, however, he admitted that the country has already ran out of money.

“You know, it’s the resources, the money,” he said.

“You want me to buy something but the problem is that one of my pockets is already empty. We have suffered economically,” he said.

The president then ordered Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana to mobilize medical professionals in the Armed Forces to help.

After the speech, presidential spokesman Harry Roque told reporters that the president approved the “hiring of additional healthcare workers to augment the current workforce.”

He said healthcare workers will also be provided additional benefits, such as risk allowance, life insurance, free quarters, free transportation, free and frequent testing, among others.

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