Duque admits feeling hurt at senators’ resignation call


Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Thursday admitted that he felt hurt with the resolution of some senators calling for his resignation supposedly due to failure of leadership amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis in the country.

During the virtual meeting of the House Defeat COVID-19 Committee, Duque said that while he respects the position of the senators, he serves at the pleasure of the President.

“For as long as he continues to put his trust and confidence in my capabilities, I will lead the DOH and the IATF in putting forward a very effective response against COVID-19 in this country,” he said.

“It’s just very unfortunate, and I’m really hurt that it is at this time when the Senate was calling for my resignation when in fact we need to come together,” he added.

A total of 14 senators, including close allies of the President, signed P.S. Resolution No. 362 stating that Duque must step down “for his failure of leadership, negligence, lack of foresight, and inefficiency in the performance of his mandate,” as the Philippines continues to grapple with the contagion.

Duque’s shortcomings resulted in “poor planning, delayed response, lack of transparency, and misguided and flip-flopping policies” for COVID-19, according to the lawmakers.

But Duque enumerated some of the actions of the Philippine government that were helpful in country’s fight against COVID-19.

For one, he said the Philippines was one of the countries that imposed an absolute travel ban on persons from China and its special administrative regions which caused the country to buy time to act against the virus.

“Because of that bold action, the entry of the pandemic virus was delayed by a month. And no less than the WHO itself has cited the Philippines as one of the countries that did not report a case of COVID-19 for more than three weeks, and in fact to be exact, for four weeks,” he said.

Duque also said that he believes that the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, which he chairs, have worked so hard in responding to the COVID-19 crisis.

“All the members of the IATF, we gave a very solid recommendation to the president precisely to approve, first initially the general community quarantine initiative, but which ostensibly was not effective initially and thus, the IATF, having had to level up from the general community quarantine to the enhanced community quarantine,” he said.

“This is one of the two definitive decisions that somehow has made us manage the COVID-19 in the country,” he said.

Duque appealed to everyone to come together and unite amid the “extremely difficult” situation that the country currently faces.

“We need to unite, we need to do our best, we have to appreciate which one should contribute to put to the table and help us succeed in this war,” he said.

“This is a war. This is World War III and this is against an invisible enemy. How I wish that the Senate had been more magnanimous and more appreciative of the efforts that we have tried to put in place from the time that the threat of COVID-19 began in this country,” he added.

Malacañang already said that Duque will remain in his position despite the call of the senators.—LDF, GMA News

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