Duterte vows to 'stand by' Duque: 'Pag nasira ako, eh 'di nasira'

President Duterte gave his most impassioned defense of Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III yet, saying he would "stand by him" even if the entire country goes against his decision to support his embattled Cabinet member.

President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during his "Talk to the People" briefing on Aug. 24, 2021. (Screenshot from Facebook live)

"Time and again I've always admonished Cabinet members...pero yung (but) outright dismissal just because it is the clamor of the public? Maski kami na lang ni Duque (Even if it's just me and Duque) and the rest of the Philippines, I will stand by him," Duterte during the pre-recorded "Talk to the People" public briefing on late Tuesday night, Aug. 24.

"'Pag nasira ako, eh 'di nasira (If I get ruined, then I get ruined). But I will never abandon a person just like that na aanuhin mo na walang kasalanan (even if he has done no wrong)," he continued just a few meters away from Duque.

Duterte's remarks were a continuation of his defense on the Cabinet member even as the DOH was cast in a bad light--yet again--this time by the "flagging" of the Commission on Audit (COA) on the health agency's expenditures in 2020.

Duterte said that the flagging had caused an impression of corruption in the DOH, which he described as unfair.

But even before this, Duque hasn't been very popular in the eyes of the public due to some Filipinos' perception on the handling of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

"Eh ang sabi nila (COA said) at this very late day, nag-issue sila ng statement (they issued a statement), walang corruption daw at walang nawawalang pera (they said there's no corruption and no funds were missing). Pero (But) in the process, they had already painted black the white there ," Duterte said.

"Yung COA iba-iba ang findings, napipinturahan siya ng itim. Nasisira si Duque, nasisira lahat sa , ako naman (COA's varying findings have led to him being painted black. Duque gets ruined, everyone in DOH gets ruined, and as for me) it would reflect on me as President," he said.

"Napinturahan na si Duque ng itim, eh amputi-puti niya (Duque gets painted black, even if he's so white)," Duterte further said.

The President went on to say that he would never ask for Duque's resignation as health chief.

"Kung si Duque (If Duque) will offer to resign voluntarily, tatanggapin ko (I will accept it). Pero kung sasabihin mo na ako magsasabi na mag-resign ka (But if you want me to tell him to resign), that will never happen," he said.