Amid findings of incompetence by the Department of Health (DOH) in its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, President Duterte should start looking beyond Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and mind the public for a change.
Senator Panfilo M. Lacson on Tuesday
August 17 stressed that the President was elected by the people whom he has sworn to serve.
He issued the statement after President Duterte castigated the COA which demanded the DOH to explain discrepancies in the DOH’s use of its COVID-19 response funds, including its failure to give special risk allowances to health workers.
‘’That said, the President is out of line in publicly castigating the COA, which is just performing its mandate and responsibility to the people and the Constitution,’’ he added.
Lacson said the Commission on Audit is a constitutional body which is independent of the executive or legislative branches of government, and certainly not under the Office of the President of the Republic.
‘’It (COA) has a mandate to perform, and no one can dictate on them,’’ he pointed out.
Second, COA findings and recommendations are public documents. Transparency dictates that the public must be informed of how public monies are spent.
Lacson said the COA should not be cowed by intimidating statements, even those coming from the Chief Executive.
‘’In fact, those in the COA should proceed with more vigor, courage and independence,’’ he added.
‘’Hirap na ang mga health workers na marami sa kanila ay pinagkakaitan ng Special Risk Allowance na nakapaloob sa Bayanihan na Malakanyang mismo ang nakiusap sa amin sa Konggreso na ipasa (Many health workers had been denied of their special risk allowance mandated in the Bayanihan laws that Malacanang itself pleaded with Congress to pass),’’ Lacson said.
‘’Ang incompetence ay hindi dapat pinapalampas lalo na sa gitna ng krisis na dulo ng pandemya (Incompetence should not be allowed to pass particularly during the current pandemic),’’ he added.
Opposition Senator Francis ‘’Kiko’’ Pangilinan pointed out that the Commission on Audit (COA) is not the problem but
‘’kapabayaan, katiwalian at palpak na pamumuno sa DoH na kunukunsinti ng Malacanang (mismanagement, corruption and incompetence at the DOH that Malacanang take sides),’’ he said.
‘’Bakit yung nagsiwalat ng kapalpakan at hindi yung pumapalpak ang sinasabon? (Why was the government agency that revealed such incompetence be taken to task and not the ones responsible?)’’ he asked.
Despite the negative grade on DOH given by COA, the Executive Branch said Duque stays as DOH chief.