Duque on the verge of tears, on the verge of resigning amid PhilHealth controversy – Go
MANILA, Philippines – Health Secretary Francisco Duque III was on the verge of tears and about to step down as he continued to be linked to allegations of corruption within Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth), Senator Christopher “Bong” Go revealed on Tuesday.
“Health Secretary Duque still has the President’s confidence and we must respect him,” Go said in a statement.
“The truth is Secretary Duque is on the verge of tears and would really like to let go,” Go said.
[Original statement in Filipino: “Sa totoo lang po, nangingiyak na po si Secretary Duque at gusto na talagang bumitaw.”]
The senator also defended the Department of Health (DOH) in its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, saying the agency had done its best to perform its duty during the pandemic.
Go, a longtime supporter of Duterte, is often seen among members of the government’s COVID-19 task force which includes Duque. He often participated in televised briefings of the president, although he was already a member of the legislature.
Duque has repeatedly aroused the ire of senators for his handling of the pandemic. Fourteen senators earlier signed a resolution calling him to resign immediately because of this.
Recently, several lawmakers also called Duque for not being able to respond to the allegations endemic corruption at PhilHealth, which he has headed in various capacities since 2001.
As the current head of DOH, Duque serves as ex officio chairman of the board of directors of PhilHealth.
The Senate Committee of the Whole, which investigated the PhilHealth mess, even recommended the criminal charges laid against Duque and several others on the allegedly dubious release of billions of funds under the crown corporation’s emergency cash advance measure.
The health chief, who has vowed to clear his name, has since dismissed the committee’s report as “unfounded conclusions “ made on “mere allegations”.
In addition to recommending criminal charges, the Senate panel also called on Duterte to replace Duque and appoint a new health secretary with a “stronger will to fight corruption.”
While Go agrees with most of the recommendations in the Senate committee report, he said he would leave it up to the chair to decide. – because he is the only appointing authority – whether it is necessary to reorganize his Cabinet.
“As I explained during the Senate session last week, this is my only reservation when signing the committee report,” Go said.
The senator also noted that a working group led by the Ministry of Justice (DOJ) was already completing its investigation into PhilHealth.
“If it can be proven that there is corruption, then there is nothing more to say. He has to go. And anyone else involved in the corruption must leave, be held accountable and be jailed, ”Go said.
[Original statement in Filipino: “’Pag napatunayang may corruption, wala na pong dapat pag-usapan pa diyan. He has to go. At kung sino po ‘yung sangkot sa corruption, kailangan pong umalis, kailangang managot, at kailangang makulong.”]
Further, Go said the findings and recommendations in the Senate committee report would help the Justice Department task force “in carrying out its task of investigating, auditing, verifying the way of life, recommend suspensions or dismissals, prosecute and press charges, and jail those found guilty of corruption.
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