Senator Panfilo Lacson insisted Monday Health Secretary Francisco Duque III should resign from his post even after President Rodrigo Duterte again defended him from critics.
Duterte, on Sunday night, said Duque should not be fired because he “did not import COVID-19.”
“Okay, you want me to fire Duque? Let me be satisfied. Anong kasalanan ng tao [what did he do wrong]? He did not import COVID,” Duterte said.
“He was there all the time, and ang infection was overwhelming not only for the Philippines. I do not want to compare it with any country, but it was a global thing,” he added.
Lacson responded in a tweet, “No, sir. The COVID-19 importers are the virus-infected couple from Wuhan, China who spread the virus in Manila because your Secretary Duque miserably failed to do a simple contact tracing.”
The senator said in another tweet that the healthcare workers’ plea for a two-week enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila is a message to the Department of Health that the country is “not moving towards the right direction.”
“If nothing is wrong with the rudder, maybe the ship captain needs immediate replacement,” he said.
Duque in a Senate hearing in February blamed Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines, which carried the country’s first two cases of COVID-19 for the slow contact tracing on passengers who were exposed on the said flights.
“Airlines are not sharing the contact details of the passengers. They are invoking confidentiality,” Duque said.
The two airlines refuted the allegation and said that they provided the full flight manifest, including the contact details of the passengers.
“It is not only me who disagrees with the President for not firing Secretary Duque. There were 14 senators who had earlier asked him to resign. I don’t think that number has changed,” Lacson said in a separate statement.
Several senators earlier asked Duque to resign from his post, but he remained serving as DOH Secretary, saying he will stay as long as Duterte trusts him.
“Having said that, I couldn’t understand what’ amulet’ or magic potion Duque has as far as the President is concerned,” he said.