A Cabinet official on Saturday belied allegations that healthcare workers (HCWs) from Cebu were “forced” to go to the National Capital Region Plus (NCR Plus) to assist hospitals amid rising Covid-19 cases.
Undersecretary Anthony Gerard Gonzales of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas (OPAV) said it “looks like there’s a deliberate attempt to embarrass and malign the efforts of Visayas and also insult our HCWs and front-liners who willfully, bravely, and heroically went to NCR Plus to serve our brothers and sisters there.”
Gonzales questioned so-called “officials” of the Philippine Nurses Association (PNA) Cebu Chapter who made such allegations.
“I continue to laud the efforts of the people of the Visayas for their Bayanihan spirit. I am proud as a Bisaya of what our fellow Bisaya are doing to help NCR Plus,” Gonzales said via social media.
He said persons misrepresenting the PNA organization in Cebu “embarrass and malign the heroic and Bayanihan effort of the Visayas.”
Gonzales said doctors and nurses are of legal age and mature enough to decide.
Fifty HCWs, including doctors and nurses, from Central Visayas left for Manila on Wednesday.
The deployment was initiated by the OPAV, in coordination with the Department of Health-Central Visayas (DOH-7) and Project Balik Buhay.
Joseph Stephen Descallar, who claimed to be the president of PNA-Cebu, told local publication The Freeman on Friday that some nurses went to Manila because “they were left without a choice. Some were forced to be part of the team.”
DOH-7 spokesperson Dr. Mary Jean Loreche also denied reports of coercion.
“We categorically deny this. When there was a call to help NCR Plus with the deployment of healthcare workers, there was an invitation for them to volunteer and join,” Loreche told reporters. “We salute their dedication to help in this time of crisis.” (PNA)