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Health workers who died fighting COVID-19 ‘lucky’ to lay down life for country

By: Gabriel Pabico Lalu - INQUIRER.net March 31,2020 - 08:29 AM

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday consoled the relatives of health care workers who had died caring for COVID-19 patients,  saying that their loved ones were “lucky” to have died serving the country.

Duterte, who delivered an address close to midnight of Tuesday, said it would be better to die helping the government’s fight against the recent coronavirus pandemic than dying in senseless accidents.

“This is my guarantee: We are doing everything we can.  There are doctors, nurses, attendants who have died. They are the ones who died for the sake of other people.  They are so lucky, having died for the country.  That should be the reason why people die,” Duterte said in Filipino.

“Let us not die due to other reasons, like being run over by vehicle without you doing anything, It would be an honor to die for your country, I assure you,” he added.

In the fight against COVID-19, the Philippines has lost some of its nurses and doctors while attending to patients in the hospital.  Among those who died were the Philippine Heart Center’s Dr. Israel Bactol and Dr. Raul Diaz Jara.

The Bayanihan to Heal as One Act (Republic Act No. 11469), which Duterte recently signed, provides for cash grants to medical staff who contracted the disease and to the relatives of those who died.

READ: Chinese docs’ advice to Filipino peers: Diagnose COVID-19 patients ASAP, protect health workers 

READ: Set aside part of additional budget for health workers, mass testing – CHR 

During his over 19-minute address, Duterte also shared a bit of his “philosophy in life” — although he clarified that he was not forcing on other people.

“My doctrine in life is that I, Rodrigo Duterte, if it is my time to die, then it is my time.  That’s how I look at it because I cannot do anything about it.  I cannot say when. So God, if it is my time, take me. Do whatever you want,” Duterte said.

“I’m not telling you to follow my philosophy, but somehow, let the thought comfort you that I really worry about you, that I worry that you will not be able to reach old age with your children and grandchildren — because I am already at that ripe age.  So let us continue working. The supplies are there, and we can buy the things that you need,” he added.

As of Monday, Luzon and other areas in Visayas and Mindanao remain under an enhanced community quarantine due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases.

As of this writing, the Department of Health has counted 1,546 COVID-19 patiens, 78 of whom have died while at 42 have recovered.

Worldwide, 713,258 persons have been confirmed to have the latest coronavirus strain. Of that number, 33,658 have died and 148,707 have recovered. / atm

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