14 senators called for the Health secretary to leave his post and Senate majority leader Franklin Drilon expressed his opinion that Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III is a hindrance to the government’s fight against COVID-19.

Whew! That was harsh.

That’s not all. The department that Duque is heading is being questioned and scrutinized by Senator Panfilo ‘Ping’ Lacson on Tuesday for purchasing medical equipment twice as expensive as those bought by private groups for testing individuals for the new coronavirus disease.

Add to the fact that Duque himself admitted that there were no mass testing conducted in the country since the outbreak began was received negatively. On a logical note, he might be correct about it since no countries in the world had undergone mass testing but instead, targeted testing must be used to curb the virus from spreading. Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque admitted that it was “impossible” to test the country’s entire population, saying no country in the world tests every citizen. 

Points for Duque?

Duque’s pronouncement during the senate hybrid hearing that the country is (or was) on its ‘second wave’ of the outbreak was another failed attempt to bolster DOH’s effort in fighting COVID-19.

Why? Because Duque’s statement was quickly corrected by Roque and even some of the health department’s doctors rebuked it. Roque made a clarification in his daily #LagingHandaPH press briefing that it’s not true that we are now on the second wave rather we are still on the first wave.

Trust rating for Duque must have fallen drastically that even the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines, Inc. (PHAPi) requests for the replacement of Duque as the DOH Secretary and Chairman of PhilHealth and instead requesting the Office of the President to appoint someone who can do better in handling health concerns of the country.

These are just the challenges that Duque is facing right now. If he’s lucky and he still got the President Duterte’s ‘trust and confidence’, we may still see him until the end of this pandemic.

Duque might just got lucky.

Last Monday night, during the President’s late night televised address, he asked Duque of the real score of the health pandemic crisis in the country. Duque responded and Duterte took it well.

Instead of lambasting the Health secretary, Duterte gave a sound advise and told Duque not to mind those criticism. “There are always pros and cons,” pertaining to their jobs as elected or appointed officials, said the President. As long there is no issues of graft and corruption, the President told Duque to just listen to criticism because the Philippines is in a democracy state of government.

“I know you’re hard-pressed and I know your situation. You just tell us if that is the one grey matter between your ears. Eh di sabihin mo. ‘Kung ayaw niyo maniwala basta eto ang saken’. So be it. If I committed a wrong as long as there is no money (involved) there, hearing that Atty. Lao, eh tama siya… Ang akin lang dito eh, what I’m interested to know is if there is graft and corruption, was dirty money changed hands? Pag yan na, wala nang pagusapan, hiwa-hiwalay na tayo,” the President spoke in front of Duque.

“Pero kung magsabi ka na nagkamali ka, as it is, yun nagsabi na mahal mahal ang ano… Eto nga eh, panahon ng, the height of contagion wala naman ako narinig p@ta na gustong tumulong. Ngayon san tayo? Mayron umabot saken meron dito meron doon. Sabe ko eh di, papunta, ayan si Bong, panuntahin mo sila dito at dalhin nila yung produkto para papuntahin natin sa, patawag natin sa Inter-Agency Task Force. Wala naman,” added the President before going through the issue of expensive purchases of PPEs.

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