15 senators file resolution calling for Duque to quit
Fifteen senators filed a resolution calling for the “immediate resignation” of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III for showing a poor performance in addressing the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) threat in the country.
In a resolution released on Thursday, it stated that Duque must resign for his “failure of leader, negligence, lack of foresight, and inefficiency in the performance of his mandate as the secretary of Department of Health (DOH)
Because of his performance, the senators said it resulted to poor planning, delayed response, lack of transparency and misguided and flip-flopping policies and measures in addressing the pandemic disease that endangered and continue to endanger the lives of health care professionals, other frontliners and Filipino people.
Senator Resolution 362 was signed by 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, Manny Pacquiao, Lito Lapid, and Panfilo Lacson.
The senators said Duque failed to alert the medical community and fundamentally the public, that there were patients admitted in health facilities exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms and insisting that the Philippines have “zero cases of local transmission”.
Also cited in the resolution is the DOH’s dismal failure to provide adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers, as evidence by the need to appeal for donations from private citizens.
They also slammed Duque for stopping the purchase of rapid antibody-based testing kits and for preventing people from using face masks, saying it should only be used by sick people.
The Senate said these actions pose threat not only to health workers but to the entire nation.
“Secretary Duque claimed that we have relatively low cases of infection and in comparison to richer countries, we have done better in containing the spread of the virus," the resolution said.
"In truth, however, we are lagging behind other nations in terms of testing capacity and as of this writing, the country ranks first with the most number of COVID-19 cases in the Southeast Asia despite the fact that we have yet to roll out mass testing, having tested only 38, 103 individuals,” it said in the resolution.
They added due to the improper advice and manner of handling the present pandemic by the Health officials, the country is foreseen to face “quite negative dynamics” in the coming weeks due to the “inefficiency of government management” as the Philippines has earned the lowest rank among the Asia-Pacific countries COVID-19 safety ranking based on a study that evaluated the crisis performance of 150 countries and territories.
“DOH has failed to expeditiously act in facilitating the accreditation of testing centers which unreasonably slows public health response of LGUs as in the case of delayed inspection of the Marikina Testing Center,” it said.
The senators said despite the mounting death toll among health professionals resulting in depleted and exhausting workforce, Duque refused and failed to immediately invoke “Section 12 of the Medical Act” that would allow graduates to render medical services under special authorization.
But citing Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, it was announced that they approved on allowing the deployment of 1,500 new medical graduates to public hospitals to aid in the combat against the virus.
“Knowing fully well the danger posed by the COVID-19 pandemic in the beginning of the year, Secretary Duque failed to put in place the necessary precautionary measures to lessen, if not at all prevent, the impact of this health crisis as shown by the narration of facts,” it said.
In a statement, Senator Sonny Angara said the country is late for testing and contact tracing is almost non-existent.
“Whether he is removed or not, status quo cannot continue if we want to defeat the virus. The leadership should move more in fighting the virus,” he said.
“We need to be better. It’s the Filipino’s life which is at stake,” Angara added.
According to the latest data from the DOH, the country has 5, 453 COVID-19 cases with 349 deaths and 353 recoveries.
To prevent the virus from further spreading, President Rodrigo Duterte implemented enhanced community quarantine in the entire Luzon Island which he also extended until April 30. Ella Dionisio/DMS