Senate to discuss resolution on Duque’s resignation

Published April 17, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Vanne Elaine Terrazola 

The Senate will be discussing further in a formal session its resolution calling for the resignation of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.

Despite President Duterte’s decision to keep Duque in his Cabinet, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Friday that they will tackle Resolution No. 362 to take up complaints against his management of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Congress is set to resume sessions on May 4.

According to Sotto, health workers and Department of Health (DOH) personnel raised the complaints.

“Sec. Duque is a friend, but when almost two thirds of the Senate, perhaps more, receive complaints from health workers, DOH employees and those in the direct line of responses, I cannot not support PSR 362,” Sotto said in a text message.

Senator Panfilo Lacson said in an earlier interview that members of the chamber are initially considering to convene as a committee of the whole, presided over by Sotto, for an organized discussion on Duque’s performance during the public health crisis.

He said this would give Duque the opportunity to explain his side.

Sotto and Lacson maintained that the resolution was merely an appeal addressed to Duque, and not to President Duterte.

On his apology for his shortcomings as DOH chief, senators said they still expect Duque to address the issues and delays in the DOH’s efforts against the coronavirus spread.

“We trust that his admission of shortcomings will be followed quickly by more proactive and positive action to address the issues and concerns raised by his own people at the DOH, as well as government and private physicians and health workers against his leadership,” Lacson said.

Senator Joel Villanueva echoed this, saying: “We are still expecting that the Secretary of Health will step up to do justice being our public health expert and leader and to the service of the thousands of health workers who risk their lives in treating the sick. The Senate will continue to exercise its oversight and call out under-performing government agencies and officials.”

Senator Grace Poe, on the other hand, said that while she respects the President’s decision, she believes that more competent individuals could lead the government’s fight against COVID-19.

“Hindi naman tayo kukulangan ng magagaling na propesyonal. Ito’y prerogatiba ng Pangulo…pero kung ‘di tayo hahanap ng kapitan na maaring magbigay ng tamang gabay sa atin, baka mas lalo tayong mapahamak (We will not fall short of competent health professional. This is the President’s prerogative, but if we will not look for a captain who will give the right guidelines, we will be endangered),” she said in a separate interview with CNN Philippines.