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Suspension requires due process, Duque says after Poe's comment

Due process must be followed before a government official can be suspended, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said Thursday after Senator Grace Poe said he should have been suspended over deficiencies in the use of COVID-19 funds.

“‘Di ko alam kung saan siya galing doon sa pagka sinabi niya ‘yun, eh dahil kung susupindehin ka, may proseso ‘yan. Meron imbestigasyon, titingnan kung may prima facie, kung may basis, ‘di ba? Tapos kung merong complaint,” Duque said in an interview on Balitanghali.

(I don’t know where she was coming from because there is a process for suspension. There is an investigation to determine prima facie, basis, and whether there is a complaint.)

“May proseso, may due process. Hindi basta-basta nagsusupinde ng tao. Nag-chairman tayo ng Civil Service Commission, so alam din natin 'yung proseso na ‘yan, so dapat may process,” he added.

(There is due process, you don’t just suspend someone. I was once chairman of the Civil Service Commission so I know that process.)

During a Senate hearing on a Commission on Audit report that found various deficiencies in the Department of Health’s use of P67.32 billion COVID-19 funds, Poe wondered why Duque had not been suspended like executives of the state insurer. 

“Shouldn’t Secretary Duque be suspended by now if we are going to apply the same judgements as what happened to the PhilHealth execs?” she asked.

Duque, during the Balitanghali interview, also said he is exhausted after two consecutive days of congressional hearings on the COA report.

Asked on whether he has ever thought about resigning, the health chief said President Rodrigo Duterte knows that he had tried to leave his post in the past

“Alam mo, ako wala namang problema 'yung pagre-resign. Alam naman ni President Duterte ilang beses na ko nag-re-resign, ‘yun nga lang pinapakiusapan ako na wag akong bibitiw,” he said.

(You know, I have no problem with resigning. President Duterte knows I have resigned many times, but I was asked to stay.)

Duque also reiterated an earlier COA statement that said there was no mention of corruption in its 2020 audit report for the DOH. 

“Hinihingi lang nila ‘yung mga dokumento na ibibigay naman ng (They are just asking for documents and these will be given by) DOH and its implementing operating units,” he said. --KBK, GMA News