Duque’s fate as DOH chief up to Duterte, Palace says
MANILA, Philippines — The fate of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III is up to President Rodrigo Duterte, Malacañang said Friday amid calls to sack the health chief after causing public confusion and alarm due to his pronouncements about the supposed second wave of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infections.
“Secretary Francisco Duque III serves at the pleasure of the appointing authority, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, in this challenging time,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque said in a statement.
“Secretary Duque will answer allegations in the proper forum but for now let us allow him to do his job during this global health emergency,” he added.
Duque drew fierce criticism after announcing in a recent Senate hearing that the Philippines was already experiencing a second wave of the COVID-19 infections, referring to the first three patients from Wuhan, China in late January as the country’s “first wave.”
Several lawmakers and Duque’s fellow Cabinet members contradicted his statement.
Malacanang said that he is merely expressing his opinion and that the country is still facing the first wave of the outbreak.
The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) said Duque should be replaced following the confusion and alarm caused by his statement.
“It is another testament to Duque’s inability to lead the country’s pandemic response as it’s top health official,” Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes said.
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