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Duque not importer of COVID-19? Lacson says DOH chief failed in contact tracing

Senator Panfilo Lacson on Monday disagreed that the government should let Health Secretary Francisco Duque III off the hook after President Rodrigo Duterte defended the latter anew amid the pandemic.

The senator reacted to Duterte's remark that Duque should not be axed because he "did not import COVID-19."

"No, sir. The COVID-19 importers are the virus-infected couple from Wuhan, China who spread the virus in Manila because your Secretary Duque miserably failed to do a simple contact tracing," Lacson said in a tweet.


In another tweet, Lacson said the health workers' call for a two-week enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila merely aims to tell the Department of Health that the country is "not moving towards the right direction."

"If nothing is wrong with the rudder, maybe the ship captain needs immediate replacement," he said.

During a Senate hearing in February, Duque blamed the airlines which carried the Philippines' first two confirmed cases of COVID-19 for the slow contact tracing of the individuals who were exposed on those flights.

"Airlines are not sharing the contact details of the passengers. They are invoking confidentiality," Duque said.

Local carriers Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines denied the allegation and said that they provided the full flight manifest including the contact details of the passengers.

The first two confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Philippines were detected on January 30 and February 1, respectively. The patients were a Chinese couple from China's Wuhan City—the epicenter of the outbreak. One of them recovered while the other died.

During his address last night, Duterte defended Duque from critics anew.

“Okay, you want me to fire Duque? Let me be satisfied. Anong kasalanan ng tao? He did not import COVID," the President said.

"He was there all the time and ang infection was overwhelming not only for the Philippines. I do not want to compare it with any country but it was a global thing," he added.

'Amulet? Magic Potion?'

In a separate statement, Lacson maintained his position that Duque must be removed from post as the country's top health official.

"It is not only me who disagrees with the President for not firing Secretary Duque. There were 14 senators who had earlier asked him to resign. I don’t think that number has changed," he said.

Several senators called for Duque's resignation in April but the latter chose to stay, saying he serves at the pleasure of the President.

Lacson added that "many others" in the DOH and the medical community want the Cabinet official out.

"Having said that, I couldn’t  understand what 'amulet' or magic potion Duque has as far as the President is concerned," he said.—AOL, GMA News