Duque ‘hero’ in pandemic response? ‘Frontliners are the heroes,’ says Sotto

Health Sec. Francisco Duque III and Senate President Vicente Sotto III. File photos / Senate PRIB

MANILA, Philippines — For Senate President Vicente Sotto III, it is the frontliners who are the heroes during this coronavirus pandemic.

Sotto made the remark Tuesday after President Rodrigo Duterte hailed Health Secretary Francisco Duque III as “the hero” responsible for the government’s “good” response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“That’s his opinion, to me, the frontliners are the heroes!” Sotto said in a text message.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, meanwhile, said there were several heroes who “effectively contributed” to the national government’s pandemic response, such as vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr., testing czar Vince Dizon, and all the medical frontliners.

“This is a team effort. No one man can arrest a pandemic of this magnitude,” Gatchalian said.

Senator Francis Pangilinan, likewise, did not mince his words, saying it is only the administration that believes the government’s response has been “excellent” and that Duque was the “hero” amid the health crisis.

“Yung pagiging ‘excellent’ at pagiging ‘hero ni Duque dahil sa good COVID response,’ palagay ko sila sila na lang ang naniniwala dun [Duque being hailed as excellent and hero because of good COVID response, I think they are the ones who believe in this],” Pangilinan said.

Duterte has defended Duque in many instances amid calls for him to resign over controversies in the government’s COVID-19 response and in the alleged irregularities involving the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).

In September 2020, amid calls for Duque’s resignation in light of the PhilHealth controversy, Duterte said “it is not the time for you to resign.”