Jun 5, 2020

A good leader takes responsibility for their team—Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III may have only realized that after putting the blame on his subordinates for the delayed release of COVID-19 aid package for health workers.

“Nakakahiya talaga, Sir,” Duque said in a meeting with President Duterte and other Cabinet members in Davao City. The secretary noted that while health workers are dying, some of his people are doing their jobs incompetently and without a sense of urgency. “Kaya po ang sama-sama po ng loob ko, Mr. President,” he added.

However, the secretary backpedaled later on, tweeting:

“While I expressed disappointment towards some members of my team, I acknowledge that this is still my responsibility as SOH. I will make sure that we comply with the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act, with proper documentation and identification of HCWs.”


This earned a dismayed reaction from Senator Panfilo Lacson, who said via an interview with Inquirer.net that the secretary should “just go” after pinning his inadequacies and neglect on others.

“While I do not and cannot question the presidential prerogative to hire and fire his cabinet secretaries and other political appointees not protected by the civil service law, it is kind of boring to see Sec. Duque pointing fingers to his subordinates and other people for his pattern of failures in running the DOH and getting away with it each time,” said Lacson.

The senator even added that “many of us are starting to wonder what ‘amulet’ Sec. Duque has to deserve such a special treatment.”

Under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, the government is tasked to compensate health workers who fall severely ill while on duty with P100,000. Meanwhile, families of medical frontliners who died due to COVID-19 would receive P1 million.

However, it was revealed during a recent Senate hearing that no health worker or their family has been able to avail of the aid yet due to lack of implementing rules and regulations (IRR). This currently includes 32 health workers who have already died due to COVID-19, as well as approximately over 1,100 who have also caught the virus.

This earned the ire of many senators, who called the situation unacceptable and a “serious neglect.” “It’s really criminal, this neglect to pass this, and to delay these types of benefits. We keep praising them as our heroes, and yet it’s mere lip service if we don’t give them anything material,” Senator Sonny Angara said.

Earlier in April, senators also called for Duque’s immediate resignation due to his inefficiency in handling the COVID-19 crisis which could be traced to as far back as failing to immediately recommend a travel ban on China in January. 

Back then, Lacson also criticized the secretary for pointing fingers to his subordinates. “Health issue ito. Dapat you should have taken upon yourself na ikaw umakto rito, hindi ang turo ka ng turo kung kani-kanino,” said the senator.

Duque has also received flak recently for claiming that the country is already in the “second wave” of COVID-19 infections. Causing alarm and confusion with his statement, Malacañang and DOH later on apologized and withdrew the claim.

[READ: DOH secretary Duque said PH “actually” already at second wave of COVID-19]

Despite these blunders, President Duterte still has “trust and confidence” in Duque and advised the secretary not to be “touchy” on criticisms hurled against him over his management of the COVID-19 crisis.

As for the recent compensation issue, Duterte issued a job termination warning to officials behind the delays—except for Duque.

“I said just like me you cannot run your own errands… That’s why it’s called ‘you cannot run your own errands’. Somebody has to do it for you because you cannot really do it beyond human comprehension,” he told the secretary. The President also gave Duque an order to form a new team that will focus on the swift release of assistance.

 

Header photo by Marianne Bermudez for Inquirer

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TAGS: coronavirus covid-19 Department of Health duque francisco duque francisco duque iii Panfilo Lacson