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DOH welcomes Ombudsman probe on Duque, other execs over COVID-19 response

The Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday welcomed the Office of the Ombudsman’s investigation on Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and other health officials over their handling of the government’s coronavirus response.

“The DOH welcomes the investigation and will comply with all directives from the Office of Ombudsman," the department said in a statement.

"The DOH has been transparent in the COVID-19 response, including procurement transactions and the provision of benefits to healthcare workers,” it added.

Ombudsman Samuel Martires earlier told GMA News that the motu proprio investigation was launched over the following reasons:

  • purchase of 100,000 test kits by the DOH,
  • delayed procurement of personal protective equipment and other medical gears necessary for the protection of healthcare workers,
  • alleged lapses and irregularities that led to the death of medical workers,
  • rising number of deaths and infected medical frontliners,
  • inaction in the release processing of benefits and financial assistance of “fallen” and infected medical frontliners, and
  • confusing and delayed reporting of COVID-19 related deaths and confirmed cases

In response, the DOH said it had distributed the P1-million death benefit to kin of health workers who succumbed to COVID-19 and P100,000 to 19 healthcare workers considered severe cases.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque has said President Rodrigo Duterte was “frustrated” after learning that no health worker had received the death or sickness benefits months after the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act was signed into law.

Duterte also earlier ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to probe the alleged anomalous procurement of COVID-19 equipment and supplies. 

The DOH also maintained that it has regularly reported COVID-19 cases and deaths through its press briefings, daily reports, and online tracker.

“As firm believers of transparency, the Department has likewise religiously informed the public for corrections and clarifications raised by all sectors as it continues to validate all submitted data,” it said.

“DOH officials will willingly cooperate with the authorities to ensure utmost transparency throughout the duration of the investigation and beyond,” the department concluded. -NB, GMA News