President Duterte defends Health Secretary Duque

President Rodrigo Duterte came to the defense of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, who has been criticized for his handling of the COVID-19 crisis and for allegedly procuring overpriced equipment for COVID-19./PCOO/

(Eagle News)–President Rodrigo Duterte came to the defense of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III following allegations of the procurement of overpriced equipment for the testing of COVID-19.

The President defended Duque in a public address late Monday, May 25, that went on to the early hours of Tuesday, May 26.

“I gave him (Duque) the instruction and I admit it in public now. Sabi ko sa kaniya, ‘Do everything you can. I do not care if it’s expensive. Go, just go ahead and do something about it kasi ipitan tayo dito,’” the President said.

The President said he takes “full responsibility.”

In the same speech, the President also advised Duque not to be “touchy” amid some criticisms over his handling of the COVID-19 crisis.

According to the President, “pakinggan lang natin because this is a democracy.”

“Alam ko ikaw you’re hard-pressed. I know your situation, you just tell us if that is the one that’s in the gray matter in between your ears. E di sabihin, mo kung ayaw niyo maniwala bahala kayo basta ito ang akin,” he said.

Earlier, several senators called on Duque to resign for his alleged failure of leadership amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the President stood by Duque, and instead thanked the senators for their opinion that could reportedly help the chief executive in assessing the Health chief’s performance.

The Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines, Inc. has also asked President Duterte to replace Duque.

Dr. Rustico Jimenez, president of the association of doctors in a statement noted that while the group had “high regards” for Duque ” as one of our esteemed colleagues in the healthcare industry,” he “seems to be already so exhausted that there is need for a fresh blood and a fresh mind to lead the (DOH) and the PhilHealth.”