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Should DOH’s Duque resign? 14 senators think so

Should DOH’s Duque resign? 14 senators think so

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DOH secretary Francisco duque

Fourteen senators are seeking the “immediate resignation” of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III over his “inefficient” performance in handling the COVID-19 crisis in the country.

The senators who signed Senate Resolution No. 362 cited Duque’s alleged “failure of leadership, negligence, (and) lack of foresight” in addressing the pandemic. “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,” the resolution read.

Moreover, that this implied incompetency in performing his mandate as Department of Health (DOH) secretary resulted in the “poor planning delayed response, lack of transparency, and misguided and flip-flopping policies and measures in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic that endangered and continue to endanger the lives of our healthcare professionals, other frontliners, and the Filipino people.”

Included in the list of senators who filed the resolution are Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, Senators Sonny Angara, Nancy Binay, Grace Poe, Manny Pacquiao, Sherwin Gatchalian, Francis Tolentino, Joel Villanueva, Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, Imee Marcos, Lito Lapid, Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. and Panfilo Lacson.

That Sen. Bato Dela Rosa is in the list has received criticism from netizens, who point out the fact that he hasn’t been present in the recent senate hearings. Although, one of his daughters has said in a Facebook post that he has been “silently working” at home. The same criticism has also been thrown at Sen. Ramon Revilla who hasn’t been in the news save for when he was bitten by a dog and when one of his cabinet members passed away due to COVID-19. 

Whereas Sonny Angara after filing the resolution said: “Kailangan mas bibo ang liderato dito laban sa virus. We were late for testing, contact tracing is almost non-existent, hospitals short of protective gear—we need to be better. Buhay ng mga Pilipino ang nakasalalay dito.” 

The said resolution comes a day after the Philippines has been cited to have the highest number of COVID-19 positive cases in the ASEAN with minimal testing.  Inter-Agency Task Force spokesperson (IATF) spokesperson Karlo Nograles responds to this in a virtual briefing saying: “Hindi naman ito contest among ASEAN na pababaan. In fact, this was not even discussed during the recent ASEAN and ASEAN plus 3 meetings.”

While recent statistics can back the senators’ questioning of Duque’s actions, the question still remains: should he, among others, resign?

 

The health secretary spearheads the DOH—the most important department in responding to the pandemic. However, the fact that key measures that have been implemented (i.e., the enhanced community quarantine and the deployment of the PNPs in checkpoints, among others) are subject to the approval of the executive body is also something worth considering. 

Lastly, it is also to be noted that in G.R. No.14071, the Supreme court defines the Philippines’ the doctrine of qualified political agency saying: “the heads of the various executive departments are the alter egos of the President, and, thus, the actions taken by such heads in the performance of their official duties are deemed the acts of the President unless the President himself should disapprove such acts.” The doctrine further implies that cabinet secretaries, in general, cannot hold opposing official views and actions to those of their president, and they are ultimately acting out the orders of the executive body. 

President Rodrigo Duterte has rejected the senators’ call for the health secretary’s resignation according to Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea. 

Duque has also issued out the following statement regarding the matter:

 

 

Header photo courtesy of Inquirer.net

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Writer: JOY THERESE GOMEZ

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