Drilon: Duque compromises govt campaign vs coronavirus

Opposition Senator Franklin Drilon said on Saturday, May 23, that Health Secretary Francisco Duque III has compromised the credibility and efficacy of the government's campaign to beat the novel coronavirus.

"Nakakalungkot at lalong nahihirapan ang kampanya ng pamahalaan hangga’t nandiyan si Sec. Duque," Drilon said on Saturday over radio DWIZ.

(It's sad to think that the government is having a hard time with its campaign as long as Secretary Duque is there.)

Duque was under fire recently for declaring that the Philippines was already in its 2nd wave of coronavirus infections. Department of Health or DOH-tapped epidemiologist John Wong explained that the first 3 cases in January was considered the 1st wave. 

Health Undersecretary Rosario Vergeire backed it up by saying the Philippines only notices major waves, so while we are currently on our first major wave, it is technically the 2nd wave.

After a backlash, with a pushback coming from Malacañang through Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Duque conceded and said we are only on our first wave of infection.

"Talagang may pagkukulang si Secretary Duque. Mukhang hindi naagapan ang mga problema kaya lalong nahihirapan ang pamahalaan sa laban na ito dahilan sa nawawalan ng krediblidad dahilan sa hindi nagkakasundo ang mga kinatawan ng gobyerno," said Drilon.

(Secretary Duque really has shortcomings. It looks like we didn't face the problem head on so it was more difficult to fight this. Disagreements among government officials also contribute to the eroding of credibility.)

Drilon said President Rodrigo Duterte must confront this is a real problem.

"At a certain point, kailangang harapin ng Pangulo ang problemang ito kung ganito ang magiging takbo. Ang credibility ng pamahalaan ay adversely affected by this lack of testing, lack of coordinated information," said Drilon.

(At a certain point, the President needs to face this problem if it continues to be like this. The government's credibility is adversely affected by this lack of testing and lack of coordinated information.)

When senators called for Duque's resignation in April, Duterte backed him up and said the former will stay put as Health chief.

None of the minority senators signed the resolution on April 16.

"Ako hindi ako sumama noong umpisa. Pero ngayon kumbinsido na ako na dapat sumama ako sa resolution na iyon," Drilon said.

(I didn't join at first, but now I'm convinced I should join the resolution.)

Slow validation

Drilon also slammed the slow validation of the DOH of positive virus test results.

As of May 23, there are 13,777 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the Philippines, but this number doesn't reflect earlier positive results which are yet to be validated, said Drilon.

"Malaking problema ito, mahigit 19,321 ang na-test na positive, ang na-confirmed ng DOH ay mahigit 13,000 lamang. Ang ibig sabihin, sa bawat 100 na positibo, 70 pa lang ang na-validate ng DOH," Drilon said.

(This is a big problem, more than 19,321 have tested positive but the DOH has only confirmed more than 13,000. It means that for every 100 positive cases, DOH has validated only 70.)

 Drilon said that the DOH lacks encoders and disease surveillance officers.

"Dapat mag-hire sila. Nakakatakot ito. Hindi dapat manatili ito. Dapat ayusin. Ang testing ay importante para hindi tayo nanghuhula kung ilan ang apektado sa ating kababayan," said Drilon.

(They should hire. This is scary, it shouldn't continue being this way. They need to fix this. Testing is important, so we are not left guessing how many are really infected.) – Rappler.com


Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.