Senate minority bloc welcomes Ombudsman probe on DOH anomalies

Published June 18, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Hannah Torregoza

Members of the Senate minority bloc welcomed the investigation ordered by the Office of the Ombudsman into the alleged anomalies in the Department of Health’s (DOH’s) response to the COVID-19 crisis, saying it is time to exact accountability and transparency from officials tasked to handle the pandemic.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon  (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon
(Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)

“I support the investigation. We should exact accountability and transparency from government officials over the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon said when sought to comment on the issue.

“The fight against COVID-19 is far from over. The Ombudsman’s intervention should remind our officials to fulfill their responsibility with the utmost integrity and honesty. You cannot escape accountability,” Drilon said, adding that the Ombudsman should look carefully into the alleged irregularities in the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE) and PhilHealth’s pricey COVID-19 test packages.

He also said the lapses committed by the DOH have exposed to risk the welfare of the entire nation.

“(Health) Secretary (Francisco) Duque (III), in particular, has failed in his job. The people have every right to demand accountability,” he said.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros also commended the Ombudsman’s move, saying the country’s health is too important to leave it to “just one man.”

“The country’s health is too important to leave to one man – Health Secretary Duque.

I welcome this order from the Ombudsman, at sana ay magbunga ang imbestigasyon na ito para managot ang dapat managot (and I hope the investigation will become fruitful so those who are responsible would be held accountable),” Hontiveros said.

“Kailangan din ito para maalis ang agam-agam ng mga tao tungkol sa ibang kawani ng DOH na walang kinalaman sa mga nasabing transaksyon at patuloy lang sa matapat na paglilingkod (The investigation is also necessary to remove the peoples’ doubts on DOH officials who are not involved in the said transactions and are just faithfully doing their job),” she pointed out.

Hontiveros also pointed out it is imperative that the public is enlightened about the Duque’s leadership in the government’s COVID-19 response.

“The Health Secretary has a lot to answer for and this is an opportunity for him to clear his name,” she said.

“At more than 27,000 COVID-19 cases so far, this probe is a reminder to executive officials: they may serve at the pleasure of the President, but they are accountable to the Filipino people,” the lawmaker emphasized.

Read more: Ombudsman to probe DOH, Duque over irregularities in COVID-19 response