NEWS | Palace, DOH Remain Confident in Duque Despite Incompetencies

By: The News Team

Due to discovered anomalies in the Department of Health’s (DOH) pandemic response, the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) launched an official investigation last June 17. In line with this, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian advised Secretary Francisco Duque III to take a leave of absence to ensure impartial investigation, although Senator Dick Gordon countered that a change in leadership in the department would be harmful rather than beneficial. Despite the allegations, however, the Palace and DOH stand firm in supporting Secretary Duque.

Leadership and Accountability

DOH has been heavily criticized over it’s inefficient response during the COVID-19 pandemic. Issues over the department’s spendings, delayed provision of medical equipment for medical frontliners, and increasing number of infected medical frontliners were brought to light.

Senator Gatchalian believes that to be able to clear the air and find out the truth, it is necessary for Duque to take a leave of absence while the investigation is still ongoing. He stated that while Duque is at the helm, he can influence the information that the Ombudsman will request from the department.

However, Senator Gordon, chair of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, thinks that the change of leadership would disrupt the continuity of the department’s programs. He also warned the public of the evident corruption within the department and that corrupt officials may be interested in taking over Duque’s post.

“Ang suggestion ko i-overhaul at ikuha muna ng talagang mag-aaral kung bakit ganiyan sapagkat kung palit ka nang palit [ng leader], wala talagang continuity at ang mangyayari siraan nang siraan, at kung mahina-hina ang Pangulo, makikinig at makikinig doon sa mga intriga,” Gordon said.

Trust and Confidence from the Palace and DOH

Amidst the backlash, DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire has high praises for Duque, insisting that there is no need for Duque to step down and that the whole department respects and supports him.

“Sana naiintindihan ng mga tao, kaya po nakakayanan ng undersecretaries ang aming trabaho dahil meron kaming leader na katulad ni Sec. Duque,” Vergeire added.

Likewise, President Duterte’s faith and confidence with Secretary Duque remains intact. The Palace previously denied their involvement in the call for Duque to resign and Duterte expressed confidence that Duque will be able to answer the allegations made by the OMB.

Step-up in Times of Crisis

Dr. Tony Leachon, former adviser to the National Task Force against COVID-19, said that Duque should serve at the pleasure of Filipinos and not just the President, especially in the time of a health crisis.

“I think he (Duque) needs to step up. He also needs to hear the voices of the people and perhaps reflect on some other plans or measures,” Leachon added.

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The Manila Collegian

The Official Student Publication of the University of the Philippines Manila. Magna est veritas et prevaelebit.