‘Confused’ Duque’s credibility in doubt after ‘flip-flopping’ on COVID-19 ‘wave’
MANILA, Philippines — Health Secretary Francisco Duque III’s supposed “flip-flopping” on his pronouncement regarding the country’s “second wave” of COVID-19 infections has put his credibility in question, some senators said Thursday.
“Sec. Duque’s statement on the COVID-19 pandemic in the country changes like the weather. His statements have become unreliable and incredible,” Senator Joel Villanueva said in a message to reporters.
During Thursday’s House health committee hearing, Duque said the Philippines is still in the “first major wave of sustained transmission” even if only on Wednesday, during a Senate hearing on the government’s COVID-19 pandemic response, the health chief said that “actually” the Philippines is in the second wave of the new virus outbreak now.
He clarified Thursday that his declaration in the Senate hearing was only a “casual expression of an epidemiologic fact.”
“I am worried about our handling of the pandemic if the person in charge is more confused than the rest of the country,” Villanueva went on.
Senate Majority Juan Miguel Zubiri also reprimanded Duque and advised him to “get his facts right and his messaging straight.”
“The Secretary should get his facts right and his messaging straight as wrong information can put to a bad light all the efforts being done by the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) and possibly sow confusion with the public,” Zubiri told reporters in a Viber message.
For his part, Senator Panfilo Lacson said he finds the health chief’s competence and integrity a “more important issue.”
“More than his flip-flopping, the more important issue is the competence and integrity of Sec. Duque,” he said.
Duque’s pronouncement on Wednesday’s Senate hearing drew flak as it caused alarm and confusion to the public just as his fellow Cabinet members contradicted his claims.
In April, the majority of senators sought Duque’s “immediate” resignation for his “failure of leadership, negligence, (and) lack of foresight” in addressing the pandemic.
Despite this, President Rodrigo Duterte said Duque would “stay put.”
Meanwhile, Duque apologized for his shortcomings in handling the COVID-19 outbreak and reasoned that the crisis is fairly new not only to the Philippines but to the whole world and that he has no previous experience in handling such a pandemic.
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