Fourteen senators filed Senate Resolution 362 on Thursday which called Duque’s alleged “failure of leadership, negligence, lack of foresight, and inefficiency in the performance of his mandate as the secretary of the Department of Health (DOH) resulting in poor planning delayed response, lack of transparency, and misguided and flip-flopping policies and measures in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic that endangered and continue to endanger the lives of our healthcare professionals, other frontliners, and the Filipino people.”
Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, Senators Sonny Angara, Nancy Binay, Pia Cayetano, Grace Poe, Joel Villanueva, Francis Tolentino, Imee Marcos, Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, Bong Revilla, Lito Lapid, and Panfilo Lacson signed the said resolution.
Call for DOH Secretary Duque to resign
The calls for Health Secretary Duque to resign first occurred as early as February, a month before the virus outbreak spread in the country.
Some senators lashed out at Duque for his lack of “unity of command” in the high-level inter-agency task force tackling the nCoV.
Despite the issues, Malacañang said Duque still enjoys the trust and confidence of Duterte.
He stressed the secretary should be allowed to do his job amid calls for his resignation.
“I don’t think that is proper thing to do right now given the circumstances, given the efforts that are being poured into this. Like I said, Sec. Duque, with all the circumstances, with the situation, he’s hands-on with everything,” Nograles said.
Duque’s background in serving government
Francisco Tiongson Duque III is a Filipino physician and government official currently serving as the Secretary of Health since 2017 in the Cabinet of President Rodrigo Duterte. He also previously served as Secretary of Health from 2005 to 2010 under the administration of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
On July 29, 2019, in his privilege speech, Senator Panfilo Lacson accused Duque of an alleged conflict of interest as Secretary of the Department of Health. Lacson claimed that the companies of Duque’s siblings, Doctors’ Pharmaceutical (DPI) and Educational and Medical Development Corporation (EMDC), continued to have contracts with government agencies despite Duque taking positions in government.
According to Lacson, DPI continued to earn millions of pesos from the government through the lease of an EMDC building for the use of the Philippine Health Corporation Regional Office 1 in Dagupan City. Duque, however, denied Lacson’s allegations and continues to serve as DOH secretary.