Duque, DOH officials skip Senate probe anew due to Duterte order
MANILA, Philippines — Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and other Department of Health (DOH) officials skipped anew on Tuesday the Senate blue ribbon panel’s investigation into the agency’s use of pandemic funds earlier flagged by state auditors.
In a letter to committee chairman Senator Richard Gordon, Duque said they were “directed by the President to give way to equally important COVID-19 response activities.”
“The Department of Health extends our gratitude to the Committee on Accountability of Public Officers and Investigations [Blue Ribbon] for your vigilance and resolve to surface the truth, particularly in matters that relate to the use of government funds during the course of our pandemic response,” Duque’s letter read.
READ: Health Sec. Francisco Duque III and other DOH officials to skip the Senate blue ribbon panel’s 12th hearing on the agency’s use of pandemic funds.FEATURED STORIES
“We have been directed by the President to give way to equally important COVID-19 response activities…,” Duque’s letter read. pic.twitter.com/R9p35z2KDS
— Christia Ramos (@CMRamosINQ) October 19, 2021
“[T]he DOH family extends our sincere regrets for being unable to send representative officials and employees to attend the said hearing,” it added.
The health chief cited the memorandum order earlier issued by the Office of the President barring Cabinet secretariesand other officials of the executive branch from attending the Senate probe.
Nevertheless, Duque gave the DOH’s “firm assurances” that the agency will “continue to cooperate…and commit to submit any and all documents that may aid the good Committee over the course of their investigation in aid of legislation.”
This comes after Duque, during the DOH’s budget hearing last week, said he agrees that the executive branch should not “block” Cabinet officials from attending the probe but sought for certain adjustments in the conduct of the hearings.
The blue ribbon committee is conducting its 12th hearing on Tuesday. Duque and other DOH officials also skipped the 11th hearing last Oct. 5 in accordance with the President’s memorandum order.
“I would like to state for the record that prior to the memorandum order, we had a 100-percent attendance, the entire DOH was present for 10 straight hearings in both houses of Congress,” Duque earlier told senators.
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.