DAVAO CITY, Philippines — President Duterte is reportedly scouting for somebody to replace Francisco Duque III as health secretary amid calls for his resignation by members of the Senate and other sectors of society due to his handling of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
“I understand the President is now looking around for somebody to replace Duque,” a source told The STAR.
Another source, however, said the timing of the supposed firing of Duque, if not his resignation, comes at a time that the country is in the midst of the “battle against COVID-19.”
Several sectors have claimed that Duque has lost the credibility to lead the country’s fight against COVID-19 after the Department of Health was accused of overpricing the procurement of medical equipment to battle the disease.
“We hope the President will not take long to give Duque the way out. He has to go,” a Duterte Cabinet member, who asked not to be named, said.
The Senate quizzed Duque on overpriced purchases, but he pointed to the Department of Budget and Management as responsible for “the discrepancies in the purchases.”
Executive Secretary Medialdea, DILG Secretary Ano, Presidential Spokesperson Roque, Senator Gordon, Senator Lacson, Senator Pangilinan, Senator Drilon and former Health Secretary Cabral all expressed DISMAY at Department of Health Secretary Duque’s statement. Pansinin ninyo na madalas ay sumasalungat sila Pangilinan at Drilon sa pamahalaan ngunit ngayon maraming kasama sa administrasyon ang nakiupak din sa Health Secretary. Malimali kasi. Walang gamot ang KABOBOHAN.
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Palace contradicts DOH: Philippines still in first wave of COVID-19 infections
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines is still in the first wave of the novel coronavirus outbreak, Malacañang said Thursday, refuting Health Secretary Francisco Duque III’s declaration that the country is now facing the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Tayo po ngayon ay nasa first wave,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque said in a televised Palace briefing.
“Alam niyo po ang medisina, para ring mga abogado ‘yan, iisa lang ang batas namin (pero) iba iba ang interpretasyon. Ganyan din po siguro sa medisina, iisa ang siyensya ,iisa ang datos, iba ang basa,” Roque said.
During a Senate hearing on the government’s COVID-19 response Wednesday, Duque disclosed that the Philippines is actually on the second wave of COVID-19 infection now, citing data from epidemiology experts.
Duque’s statement, however, was met with opposition from some senators, lawmakers, and even government officials, especially after President Rodrigo Duterte himself has repeatedly mentioned trying to avoid a second wave of COVID-19 cases, which his economic managers said would be too costly to address.
It added that the second wave of more than 10,000 cases peaked at the end of March. It can be recalled that the DOH reported 583 new COVID-19 infections on March 31, the highest recorded new cases in a day.
Citing data from health professionals, Roque said the first wave started with the three COVID-19 positive Chinese nationals late January and went on until May when the Philippines started to report a decrease in coronavirus infections.
“Kaya nga po ang sinasabi natin bagamat hindi pa po fully flattened ang curve, nagsisimula na po ang pag-flatten ng curve,” he said.
The Palace official likewise claimed that the first three cases are too small to be considered an outbreak wave.