Bayan repeats call for Duque’s resignation: Why is Duterte keeping him?
MANILA, Philippines — Activist group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) repeated its call on Wednesday for Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to step down, questioning why he remained in President Rodrigo Duterte’s Cabinet.
Bayan Secretary-General Renato Reyes insisted that Duque must go as he appeared to be more concerned over the image of the Department of Health rather than the piling COVID-19 cases, which currently at 58,850 infected patients, of whom 1,614 have died and 20,976 have recovered.
Bayan believes the number could reach around 70,000 cases by the time Duterte delivers his State of the Nationa Address Sona.
“We have said it before: Blunder after blunder, Duque should RESIGN or be fired. Why is Duterte still keeping him in office? #DuqueSibakin,” Reyes said in a statement.
“Hospitals are at full capacity. Yet the DOH secretary is more concerned with image management, desperately trying to cover up government incompetence. His flip-flop on flattening the curve has been widely assailed,” he added.
He was referring to Metro Manila hospitals, many of which have announced that could no longer accept more COVID-19 patients.
Earlier on Wednesday, Duque said that the country had already started to flatten the COVID-19 infection curve, as the case doubling time and mortality rates appeared to have slowed down.
He made the statement despite the admission of other health authorities that the country’s R-naught number (R0) — which signifies the number of people who may be infected by a single COVID-19 patient — had slightly increased from 1.09 to 1.23.
Hours later, Duque retracted his statement, saying what he meant to say was that the curve had bent — not flattened.
Bayan is not alone in asking for the Duque’s resignation due to his alleged mishandling the COVID-19 crisis.
Last April, 14 senators signed a resolution urging Duque to spare the President from further trouble by just stepping down from his post.
Then this May, Bayan asked Duque — the subject of an Office of the Ombudsman probe due to shortcomings in DOH’s COVID-19 response — to go.
Recently, the Alliance of Health Workers also called for Duque’s ouster, based on the health official’s alleged lack of a plan five months after the outbreak.
Despite these issues, Duterte has vouched for Duque, saying that officials in his Cabinet were “clean”.
—With a report from Jim Mendoza (trainee)
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