Duterte urged to replace Duque with someone who has ‘stronger will’ to fight corruption
MANILA, Philippines — A Senate panel has called on President Rodrigo Duterte to replace Health Secretary Francisco Duque III after it completed its investigation into fresh allegations of irregularities in the embattled Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).
The Senate Committee of the Whole made this call as part of its recommendations.
According to the panel’s report, the President should consider appointing a new health secretary “who has a stronger will to fight corruption within his organization and the agencies under his/her watch.”
The findings of the committee were reported out by Senate President Vicente Sotto III during Tuesday’s plenary session.
However, Sotto told reporters that he did not include in his sponsorship speech the committee’s recommendation to replace Duque and other matters because it would look like he was imposing too much on President Duterte.
“Kaya hinayaan ko na sa committee report yun, di ko na yun nilahad (That’s why skipped mentioning these matters) when I delivered my speech,” he added.
The Senate Committee of the Whole has also recommended the filing of malversation as well as graft and corruption charges against Duque and several others over the “illegal” implementation of PhilHealth’s interim reimbursement mechanism.
Duque serves as PhilHealth’s ex-officio chairman.
But the health chief dismissed as “baseless” the findings of the Senate committee.
“The Senate committee made baseless findings on mere allegations alone. I was impleaded on the IRM (interim reimbursement mechanism) when I was not even part of the deliberation and did not sign the said resolution,” Duque said during a House hearing.
“Ni anino nung aking pirma ay hindi makita (Not even a shadow of my signature has turned) up [in the contested resolution],” the health secretary added. [ac]
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