Duterte confident Duque can answer Ombudsman's probe, says Palace
President Rodrigo Duterte is confident that embattled Health Secretary Francisco Duque could handle the investigation by the Office of the Ombudsman against him and other health officials and employees for alleged anomalies relating to the government's response against coronavirus disease, Malacañang said on Thursday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte still has trust and confidence with Duque.
"The President has time and again expressed his continuing trust and confidence to Sec. Duque," he said in a virtual press briefing.
"The President is confident that Sec. Duque can answer all the allegations before the Ombudsman," he added.
Despite the probe by the Ombudsman against the DOH officials, Roque expressed belief it would not affect the credibility of the agency as well as the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
"They are presumed innocent until found guilty," he said.
He added that the IATF and all departments have been addressing the COVID-19 crisis as a whole.
"It's a whole of government approach. It's not just the DOH although the DOH of course has the position of leadership," the spokesman added.
Ombudsman Samuel Martires has created investigating teams to jointly probe the alleged irregularities and anomalies committed by the DOH officials and employees, including Duque, regarding the purchase of 100,000 test kits by the DOH and the use of test kits developed by the University of the Philippines.
Also covered by the investigation were delayed procurement of personal protective equipment and other medical gear for health workers and the release of benefits for health workers who got severely sick and those who died due to coronavirus.
Martires said a few weeks before the Luzon-wide lockdown in March, his office had started the probe but their investigators found difficulties in getting information from some DOH officials and personnel. Celerina Monte/DMS