The absence of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and FDA Director-General Eric Domingo in the congressional hearings regarding the COVID-19 pandemic was questioned by lawmakers.
Anakalusugan party-list Representative Michael Defensor on Monday warned that Health Secretary Francisco Duque III could be cited in contempt if he continues to miss the hearings.
The Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability resumed its motu proprio investigation on the alleged questionable guidelines and policies of DOH and FDA that supposedly restrain public health service delivery.
“On two occasions si Secretary Duque po, hindi na ho uma-attend sa hearings natin. Very critical po dito ‘yung mga usapan lalo’t higit ‘yung actions of policies ng Department of Health. So Mr. Chairman, I would like to find out what would be the basis for the continued absence of the Secretary of Health,” Defensor said.
“With your indulgence, ito po’y motu proprio hearing na po natin ‘to eh. What they are saying here are supposedly under oaths. Number one, if there is continued absence, I would request, through you, that we write an official letter that in the next meeting, if they do not attend then we can declare them in contempt,” he added.
Duque, Domingo’s absence in House hearings questioned
According to Representative Michael Edgar Aglipay, chairman of the said committee, Duque did not explain his absence and only sent representatives to the hearings.
Meanwhile, Deputy Speaker Lito Atienza questioned the absence of FDA Director General Eric Domingo in the hearing.
“By conveniently taking a leave, would Congress allow this and not only for this particular position but for future inquiries? By the convenient way of taking a leave, can they avoid congressional inquiry on their official decisions?” Atienza said.
Aglipay revealed Domingo is on leave for a month due to personal concerns.
“The committee will not allow that. But in this particular case I was informed, it is because of a personal matter. His father is sick, and he has filed a one month leave because of this,” Aglipay said.
“I think he is the last person who will avoid an inquiry, given his previous attendance in various committees and various inquiries,” he added.