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Suspend DOH secretary? Duque says ‘there should be due process’

/ 03:01 PM August 19, 2021
'Di ka dapat magwala:' Gordon says Duque should just answer COA-flagged 'deficiencies'

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — Due process should be followed if there will be any suspensions in light of the Commission on Audit (COA) report that found deficiencies in the Department of Health’s (DOH) COVID-19 funds, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said Thursday.

Duque made the remark following calls for his suspension while investigation on the COA report is ongoing, similar to what previously happened to officials of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) back in 2020 in light of the interim reimbursement mechanism (IRM) controversy.

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“Kung sususpendihin ka, may proseso ‘yan. May investigation, may titingnan kung may basis, tapos kung mayroong complaint,” Duque said in an interview with Balitanghali.

(If you are to be suspended, there’s a process. There is an investigation, someone will look into it to see if there’s basis, and if there is a complaint.)

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“May proseso, may due process. Hindi basta-bastang nagsususpende ng tao. Dapat may process,” he added.

(There’s a process, there is a due process. Suspension is not out of nowhere. There should be a process.)

It was Senator Grace Poe who recalled Wednesday that back in 2020, the Ombudsman ordered the preventive suspension of eight PhilHealth executives and five DOH officials “for various offenses” related to the use of funds during the pandemic.

“Despite numerous probes in the past, shouldn’t Secretary Duque be suspended by now if we are going to apply the same judgements as what happened to the PhilHealth execs?” Poe asked.

COA earlier released a report which found “deficiencies” amounting to P67.32 billion in the DOH’s COVID-19 response fund in 2020.

The commission has indicated that the deficiencies were caused by non-compliance with pertinent laws and regulations that have led to missed opportunities and contributed to challenges that the country faced during the health crisis.

There was no mention of “corruption” in the COA report.

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