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AMID PROBE ON DOH'S UTILIZATION OF ITS 2020 COVID-19 PANDEMIC FUNDS

Duque: ‘I have no problem resigning, but I was requested not to’

/ 03:40 PM August 19, 2021
Duque: 'I have no problem resigning, but I was requested not to'

FILE PHOTO: Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III. INQUIRER

MANILA, Philippines — Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Thursday said he has no problem with resigning from his post amid congressional scrutiny of his department’s management of its COVID-19 pandemic funds last year. However, he claimed: “I was requested not to.”

According to him, he tried to resign several times.

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“Wala namang problema ‘yung pagre-resign. Alam naman ni President [Rodrigo] Duterte, ilang beses na ‘ko nagre-resign ‘yun nga lang pinapakiusapan ako na ‘wag akong bibitiw,” Duque said in an interview on GMA News TV’s Balitanghali.

(I have no problem with resigning. President Duterte knows that I’ve resigned several times, but I was asked not to step down.)

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In a taped public address aired Monday night, Duterte said he will reject Duque’s resignation should the chief of the Department of Health (DOH) decides to step down amid the release of an audit report on the agency’s spending of its pandemic budget last year.

The President said Duque has attempted to resign twice in the past.

“I expect you to say something after this. You will resign. I will tell you, ‘No.’ You did nothing wrong. Why should you resign?” Duterte said Monday night.

COA found “deficiencies” amounting to over P67 billion in DOH’s COVID-19 response funds in 2020. This prompted investigations in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

During the Senate’s inquiry, Duque was overheard expressing confusion amid a lengthy discussion on multiple figures related to the DOH’s spending.

READ: Duque fails to mute mic: ‘Nagulo na utak ko’; Gordon tells him to see psychiatrist

“Naguluhan lang ako kasi yung figures, ang dami-dami….Kaya nasabi ko on the side ‘Naguguluhan yung utak ko rito sa mga figures’,”  the DOH Secretary said during Thursday’s interview.

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“It was a natural reaction because of the enormity of the data being presented to me by my people,” he added.

On the COA report, Duque noted the Commission’s clarification that its finding did not indicate that funds were lost to corruption.

“Hinihinngi lang nila ‘yung mga dokumento na ibibigay naman ng DOH and its implementing operating unit…[we were] given 60 days to do all of these,” he said.

(They’re just requesting documents which the DOH and its implementing operating unit will submit…we were given 60 days to do all of these.)

“We need to consolidate all these reports and present the rejoinder to the COA for their final audit decision,” he added.

The audit report triggered broad reactions from both the public and the administration – the former, calling for accountability, while the latter, criticizing COA.

COA regularly posts its reports and observations on its official website, which is accessible to the public including the media, as part of its mandate to promote transparency and fight corruption in government.

The COA report on the DOH’s pandemic budget in 2020 did not say that the deficiencies were due to corruption as it even offered recommendations on how the health department could rectify the issues.

RELATED STORIES

COA commits to continue audit duties despite complaints from Duque, Duterte

Duterte to only take action vs gov’t agencies if COA reports already final

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TAGS: COA, COA report, corruption, COVID-19 funds, DoH, Francisco Duque III, resignation, Senate
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