Duque on the verge of tears, on the verge of resigning amid PhilHealth controversy – Go

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In this photo taken on May 25, 2020, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte discusses issues with Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, as Senator Bong Go (center) looks on, on the sidelines of the meeting with members of the Group of inter-agency work on emerging countries. Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang. ACE MORANDANTE / PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

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.

LILY: Duterte tells Duque: “Now is not the time for you to resign”

“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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