Roque on calls to resign for berating doctors: Only the President can fire me

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 13) — Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, reacting to calls for him to step down after lashing out at the head of a doctors' group, on Monday said only President Rodrigo Duterte has the power to fire him.

"Nasa Presidente po 'yan (That's up to the President). Unfortunately, only the President can fire me," Roque said, when asked for his reaction to the statement of Dr. Maricar Limpin that he should be removed from his position.

Limpin, the president of the Philippine College of Physicians, was at the receiving end of the spokesperson's ire during a meeting with the pandemic response task force last week.

In an interview with CNN Philippines on Friday, Limpin called for Roque's resignation following his outburst, which she said reflects badly on the President.

READ: Head of doctors' group seeks Roque's removal, apology to all health workers for outburst

A video, which went viral on social media platforms, showed Roque berating Limpin when the physician made an emotional appeal to put the National Capital Region under a hard lockdown as personnel of hospitals are now exhausted due to rising COVID cases driven by the highly contagious Delta variant.

Roque even claimed that the group "never said anything good about government response."

Limpin said Roque's outburst was "really uncalled for" and "unprofessional."

"We were there as representatives of the health care workforce. Therefore, if he has to apologize, he has to apologize to the whole of the healthcare workforce dahil ang ginawa [what he did] is against all of us in healthcare sector," she said.

Roque apologized if he offended anyone because of the manner in which he spoke, but stood by his message.