Duterte defends Duque anew: He didn’t steal any money
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte once again defended Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, saying the latter did not steal any money.
“Yung Congress sabi i-suspend si Duque, I said ‘For what?’…What ground would I base my decision [on]?” Duterte said in a public address aired on Monday.
(Congress wants me to suspend Duque. I said ‘For what?’…What ground would I base my decision on?)
“Would I just obey the cry of one million as against my assessment na si Duque walang nanakaw kung pera ang paguusap….maybe some other things, he might be [in] some other things. But corruption, pera? Wala,” he added.
(Would I just obey the cry of one million as against my assessment of Duque who did not steal anything when it comes to money…maybe some other things, he might be in some other things. But corruption, money? Nothing.)
Duque’s name has been dragged into the fund mess involving the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).
The Senate Committee of the Whole earlier recommended the filing of malversation and graft charges against the health secretary and several others over the allegedly questionable release of PhilHealth funds through the agency’s Interim Reimbursement Mechanism (IRM).
The health secretary, who serves as PhilHealth board’s ex-officio chairman, has earlier dismissed the findings of the Senate panel as “baseless.”
Duque said he was implicated with the IRM fund distribution when he “was not even part of the deliberation and did not sign the said resolution” that authorized it.
Aside from the criminal charges, the Senate panel also called on Duterte to replace Duque and appoint a new health secretary “who has a stronger will to fight corruption.”
But Duterte has repeatedly expressed his continued trust with Duque.
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