Duterte backs Duque amid resignation calls

Sofia Tomacruz
'The President expects him to work even harder to set aside any doubts on his capacity and sincerity to serve the public during these difficult times,' says Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea

SUPPORT. President Rodrigo Duterte and Health Secretary Franciso Duque sit beside each other at a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases on March 9, 2020. Malacañang photo

MANILA, Philippines – Hours after 14 senators, including his allies, called for the resignation of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered his health chief to “stay put” as the Philippines struggles to contain the spread of coronavirus cases. 

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea told reporters on Thursday April 16, that Duterte arrived at this decision after 14 senators signed a resolution calling for Duque’s resignation over his “failed response” to the outbreak.  

“The President has made a decision for Health Secretary Duque to stay put,” Medialdea told reporters.  

The senators had called out Duque for his “failure of leadership, negligence, lack of foresight, and inefficiency in performance.” 

This, they said, led to “poor planning, delayed response, lack of transparency, and misguided and flip-flopping polices and measures” in addressing the pandemic.

Medialdea said Duterte “expressed his appreciation for the senators’ gesture in giving him the opportunity to weigh his options on the performance his SOH (Secretary of Health).” 

The executive secretary assured the public that Duque was made aware of the Senate’s position, which would raise the bar for his performance. 

“The President expects him to work even harder to set aside any doubts on his capacity and sincerity to serve the public during these difficult times,” Medialdea said. 

Duque had earlier falsely claimed that the Philippines had a relatively low number of coronavirus cases, which only included confirmed cases. Health experts have warned that the Philippines has not yet seen the true picture of coronavirus cases in the country as it lags behind in terms of testing.  

Despite this, the Philippines already has the highest number of cases in Southeast Asia – a development government has cast aside, saying it was not a “competition” of numbers.  

The Philippines was also found to be among the riskiest countries to be in during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a recent analysis of global pandemic data.

The Philippines counted 5,660 coronavirus cases as of Thursday, with 362 deaths and 435 recoveries. – Rappler.com