Duterte advises Duque: Don’t be discouraged by brickbats thrown at you

Published February 2, 2021, 11:52 AM

by Genalyn Kabiling

President Duterte has taken up the cudgels for Health Secretary Francisco Duque III anew, and advised him to ignore brickbats thrown at him.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte talks to the people after holding a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members at the Malacañang Golf (Malago) Clubhouse in Malacañang Park, Manila on February 1, 2021. (ALBERTO ALCAIN / PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

In a televised address Monday night, the President told Duque that critics were attempting to paint him “black” or corrupt so they would appear “white” or clean. 

Duque was among the Cabinet members present during a meeting with the President Monday night on the government’s pandemic response and vaccination program.

The health chief has been criticized by some groups over his alleged poor handling of the government’s efforts to combat the coronavirus outbreak. 

“Secretary Duque naman, eh palagi nilang inaaway pero tama naman. Pero ganoon siguro ‘yang public office, Secretary (They always bicker with Secretary Duque but he ends up being right. But that’s probably part of public service, Secretary),” Duterte said during his televised address Monday night.

“Do not be — ma-ano ka sa — you get discouraged from the brickbats thrown against you,” he added.

Duterte also took a swipe at the critics of Duque for allegedly trying to smear his reputation.

“All of you there have been painting Duque black because you appear — you want to appear white there,” he said.

“If you want to appear white, then paint your opponent black and then you are always white. Ganoon ‘yan (That’s how it is),” he added. The President previously vouched for the integrity of Duque, saying he cannot find a reason to suspend or dismiss him.

Some groups earlier called for the removal of Duque over his supposed mishandling of the pandemic response as well as the alleged irregularities in the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation. Duque has denied the allegations against him.

In his remarks Monday, the President urged the public not to fall for critics sowing intrigues about the government’s vaccine procurement.

He said the people should instead keep faith in government, promising that vaccine acquisition will be implemented by the book.

“Next time, do not be so gullible and — basta maniwala na lang kayo, talk about corruption, left and right. I mean, it starts with a big bang and it ends with a whimper,” he said. 

“Just keep faith with us. At the end of the day, you will see that everything has been done in accordance with the rule of law,” he said.