Duterte: Duque already rich to even get involved in corruption

Published June 23, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Genalyn Kabiling

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III is already rich to even get involved in corruption, President Duterte declared Monday after the Office of the Ombudsman initiated an investigation into the Department of Health’s (DOH) alleged irregularities in its coronavirus response.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte confers with Health Secretary Francisco Duque III during a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Malacañan Palace on March 9, 2020. (PCOO / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte confers with Health Secretary Francisco Duque III during a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Malacañan Palace on March 9, 2020. (PCOO / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

In a televised address Monday night, the President took up the cudgels for Duque and placed his reputation at stake that the country’s health chief has not stolen or wasted public funds.

Duque and other health officials are currently under investigation by the Office of the Ombudsman over alleged irregularities in responding to the coronavirus outbreak, including the supposed delay in the procurement of personal protective gear for health workers.

“Ang kwarta, wala pud na. Sigurado ko. I am very sure and I place my reputation sa — kang Secretary Duque nga walay kawat nga nahimo diha (The money was not squandered either, I’m sure of that. I am very sure and I place my reputation on Secretary Duque that there was no corruption that happened there),” he said.

“Dili na niya kaya kay dato na ni daan si Duque. Naa ni’y hospital, naa ni’y eskwelahan, naa ni tanan. Hasta tanang gwapang asawa, naa niya. Mao ni’y importante, tanang — tanang gwapa. Wala na (He wouldn’t do that because Duque is already rich. He has a hospital, a school, everything, including the most beautiful wife, he has them all. They are all beautiful — this is important),” he said.

On the alleged delay in the procurement of supplies needed to respond to the pandemic, Duterte explained that the government was not able to immediately buy the products since it looked for abundant supply at low cost.

According to Duterte, many people bought medical goods before the Philippines “because we’re one of the poor countries.” He noted that it was fortunate that the World Health Organization tried to give everyone a fair chance to purchase the medical equipment.

“Now you’re asking, ‘Why didn’t you prepare for this?’ Dili na siya preparasyon. Tungod na sa kadaghan. Pandemic, tibuok kalibutan, igo (It’s not a matter of lack of preparation, but because of the volume of demand. It’s a pandemic. The whole world is facing the same crisis),” he said.

“So nagkabuang ta karon. Nakalitan ta ani kay paspas kaayo ang iyang dagan sa contagion, sa iyang pagtakod. Mao na na-late og gamay pero dili giingong wa’y gibuhat ang Department of Health (So now we are scrambling. We were shocked by the rate of the contagion. That is why the equipment arrived a little late but that didn’t mean the Department of Health wasn’t doing anything),” he added.

Duterte affirmed his zero tolerance for corruption in government, citing that an official has already been dismissed.

“Pero naa mi nakit-an diha sa Department of Health. Mao bitaw tung gitangtang nako dayon basig diha pero sa uban. So I stand by — itaya ko ‘yung reputasyon ko as President sa lahat, walang kalokohan nga nahitabo (But we caught someone from the Department of Health. That is why I fired the person right away. But for the other cases, I stand by — I put my reputation on the line. There is no anomaly that happened),” he said.

Duterte also vouched for the integrity of Duque and other officials, saying he had repeatedly reminded them not to misuse the funds appropriated by Congress for the anti-coronavirus efforts. “I believe in the honesty and integrity of my people except for the minor doon sa — ‘yung nagpe-prepare ng ano eh — ng specification (except for the minor, those preparing the specification),” he said.

 
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