By Jeffrey Damicog
President Duterte’s public show of support for Health Secretary Francisco Duque III will not affect the ongoing investigation by Ombudsman Samuel Martires, assured Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on Tuesday, June 23.
“I think he (Martires) will proceed with this own probe regardless with what the President has said,” said Roque during an interview over CNN Philippines.
Roque pointed this out despite admitting Duterte himself appointed Martires as Supreme Court (SC) justice and as Ombudsman in 2017. Martires is also the President’s fellow alumni at the San Ben College law school.
“The Ombudsman is an independent body. It’s headed by a seasoned litigator and former trial court judge and Supreme Court justice,” Roque said.
“He (Duterte) knows the Ombudsman is independent and is infinitely qualified to proceed with investigations such as this,” he added.
Just this Monday night, June 22, Duterte again vouched for the integrity of Duque amid criticisms and calls for the health secretary to resign.
“He believes in the integrity of Sec. Duque because he doesn’t see anything that has been criminally committed by Secretary Duque himself,” Duque said.
The spokesman noted that the President is very close to Duque’s brother, Atty. Gonzalo Duque, and knows the Duque family.
“I can only say they have very close and deep friendship,” said Roque who cited that Duterte and Atty. Duque have known each other since their law school days in San Beda.
“The Duques don’t have to steal from government because they are already affluent,” Roque quoted the President as saying.