Robredo rejects calls for Duque’s resignation in the middle of health crisis
MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo disagreed with the growing calls for the resignation of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III as she believes doing so could further hurt the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking to ANC’s Headstart on Thursday, June 25, Robredo said it would be more difficult for the Philippines in the long run if the embattled Department of Health (DOH) chief – who is now being investigated by the Ombudsman – is replaced in the middle of the health crisis.
“Ito kasi, mahirap ‘yong kalaban natin. All hands on deck dapat. Parang mahirap magpalit ng heneral habang nasa gitna na ng laban,” the Vice President said.
(Our enemy here is formidable. It’s supposed to be all hands on deck. It seems difficult to change the general in the middle of the battle.)
Robredo said she would rather have Duque change the faulty policies being implemented by the DOH.
“Mas ando’n ako sa palitan na lang ‘yong ginagawa, palitan ‘yong polisiya, i-improve ‘yong lahat… I’m not in favor of parang ruffling everything in the midst of it all kasi baka lalong, baka lalong maging sintunado lahat ng ginagawa natin,” the Vice President said.
(I’m more for changing the things he’s doing, changing the policies, and improving everything… I’m not in favor of ruffling everything in the midst of it all because it might further make all efforts out of sync.)
Still, Robredo said she understands why Ombudsman Samuel Martires is pursuing the probe into Duque for supposed irregularities in the DOH’s COVID-19 response, including the "confusing and delayed reporting" of confirmed cases and deaths.
Several sectors have since called for Duque’s resignation, including senators who criticized him for claiming there’s no evidence that asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19 are contagious.
Duque has made repeated gaffes in the middle of the pandemic, from saying the country is already on its second wave of the COVID-19 crisis to pinning the blame on DOH staff for the delay in providing compensation to health workers. He would later admit it was his responsibility too after facing backlash for pointing fingers at his subordinates.
Despite all allegations, President Rodrigo Duterte said he continues to trust Duque.
For Robredo, Duque should “more open to criticism, more open to suggestions,” including being more welcoming in accepting aid from the private sector.
In the same ANC interview, Robredo said the Philippines is now playing catch up in fight against COVID-19 fight because the Duterte government was too complacent at the start of the pandemic.
To date, 32,295 people have already tested positive for COVID-19, with 1,204 deaths and 8,656 recoveries. – Rappler.com