Solon cool with keeping Duque at DOH

Published April 17, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Ellson Quismorio

Keeping Francisco Duque III as Department of Health (DOH) head honcho is the right move as far as Surigao del Sur 2nd district Rep. Johnny Pimentel is concerned.

Surigao del Sur 2nd district Rep. Johnny Pimentel (Facebook / MANILA BULLETIN)
Surigao del Sur 2nd district Rep. Johnny Pimentel

“There is a saying, ‘do not change horses on the middle of the stream,'” Pimentel said Friday. “We are in a crisis now and changing the secretary of health will not solve the problem.”

Pimentel, a Deputy Speaker, was referring to the appeal of 14 senators Thursday for Duque to step down for his alleged failure of leadership amid the COVID-19 pandemic wherein over 5,000 Filipinos have been infected and more than 300 have died.

That same day, President Duterte said that he would rather have Duque stay put.

“I support the President’s decision,” said Pimentel, who like the Chief Executive is a member of Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).

According to the Mindanao lawmaker, now is not the time for finger-pointing or looking for someone to blame.
“Instead what they should do is give their full support to the secretary,” he said of his Senate colleagues.

“We should put our acts together, and act as one,” added Pimentel.

On Thursday, Duque took part in the virtual technical working group (TWG) hearing of the House of Representatives’ Defeat COVID-19 Committee. He addressed the resignation call after a reporter asked him about it via Zoom.

“It is very unfortunate and I’m really hurt that at this time the Senate is calling for my resignation, when in fact we need to come together because we you know, we need to unite,” he said.

“How I wish the Senate had been more magnanimous and more appreciative of the efforts we’re trying to put in place from the time of COVID-19 began in this country,” added Duque, who insisted that he would continue to serve at the pleasure of the President.

Majority Leader Martin Romualdez, who presided over the hearing, said the continued rise in the number of confirmed COVID-19 patients “must further strengthen the resolve of the House to contain the pandemic.”

“This battle against COVID can be won. But let us do it in a quicker, more efficient fashion by working together and working hand in hand. Huwag lang batikos (Plain criticisms won’t do),” stressed Romualdez, who chairs the powerful Rules Committee.

It was the second virtual TWG hearing that the chamber carried out this week, with the first one last Tuesday focusing on the P370-billion economic stimulus package that congressmen are proposing for the sake of businesses that have been hard hit by the ongoing Enhanced Community Quarantine.

“Rest assured that the House of Representatives is working toward crafting resolutions to help ensure the promotion of public health safety, the delivery of basic goods and services, the uplifting of the economy, and the restoration of livelihood to many of our countrymen,” said the Leyte solon.