Sotto to Duque: Congratulations on WHO post, but senators are not satisfied
MANILA, Philippines — Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Wednesday congratulated Health Secretary Francisco Duque III for being elected as chairperson of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Regional Committee for the Western Pacific but added that most senators are still not satisfied as far as his performance in the country’s health system is concerned.
“Perhaps his role in that particular WHO [position] is completely different from his role in the DOH or PhilHealth. So just give it to him,” Sotto told reporters in an online press briefing.
“Congratulations doon pero as far as PhilHealth is concerned and the performance of the DOH is concerned, the Committee of the Whole or majority of the members of the Senate are not satisfied,” he added.
Asked by a reporter if Duque’s new position at the WHO changes his perception of the Health Secretary, Sotto said: “I hate to say this but in answer to your query, nag-imbestiga ba ang WHO? Committee of the Whole ang nag-imbestiga eh.”
(I hate to say this but to answer your query, did the WHO investigate? It was the Committee of the Whole that investigated.)
He refused to further comment when asked about his take on Duque’s election at the WHO regional committee given calls here in the country for him to resign over criticism of his leadership at the DOH amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
“I’d rather not comment kasi nangyari din naman ‘yan sa mga ibang pulitiko noong araw sa atin, diba? In the last administration, meron ding mga ganyan,” said Sotto.
(I’d rather not comment because it also happened to other politicians in the past, right? In the last administration, there were also cases like this.)
Back in April, 14 senators signed a resolution seeking the resignation of Duque, citing his supposed “failure of leadership, negligence, (and) lack of foresight” in leading the DOH in the fight against COVID-19.
President Rodrigo Duterte, however, consistently expressed support for Duque despite mounting calls for the latter to step down from his post.
In September, the Senate Committee of the Whole, which investigated the alleged anomalies at the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), also recommended the filing of charges against Duque, resigned PhilHealth president and chief executive officer Ricardo Morales, and several high-ranking officials of the agency over the alleged misuse of funds under the agency’s cash advance measure.
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