Duque, DOH officials skip Senate probe anew due to Duterte order | Inquirer News
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Duque, DOH officials skip Senate probe anew due to Duterte order

/ 12:07 PM October 19, 2021
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.

(FILE) Health Secretary Francisco Duque III gives an update to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte during a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members at the Arcadia Active Lifestyle Center in Matina, Davao City on August 30, 2021. JOEY DALUMPINES/ PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

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.”

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“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.

“[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.

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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.

JPV

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TAGS: DoH, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, Nation, News, Senate hearing
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