Amid calls for him to resign, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Thursday said his track record would show his good service in the government.
In a phone interview with GMA News Online, Duque was asked for his reaction to the calls of some lawmakers for him to quit over the deficiencies in the use of P67.32 billion in COVID-19 funds, as flagged by the Commission on Audit (COA).
Duque believed that President Rodrigo Duterte had chosen him to lead the Department of Health because of his prior experiences in serving the government.
"Alam mo ang nag-appoint sa akin si Pangulong Duterte, inanyayahan niya ako andoon ako sa aking lalawigan, nanahimik at ako'y inimbitahan, inanyayahan ako na tumulong sa kanyang administrasyon," Duque said.
(President Rodrigo Duterte was the one who appointed me. I was at peace in my province when he asked me if I could serve under his administration.)
"Dahil alam niya, matagal din akong nagsilbi. Naging Secretary of Health ako dati, naging chairman ako ng Civil Service Commission, naging chairman din ako ng GSIS, nakita naman niya kung papaano ako magtrabaho," he added.
(He knew that I've served before. I became Health Secretary, I led the Civil Service Commission as well as the Government Service Insurance System. He knew how I perform my duties.)
"'Yung track record ko eh huwag naman sanang kalimutan, nanilbihan naman tayo nang maayos," the Health chief said.
(I hope my track record will be remembered. I have served well.)
Duque also said he has "zero tolerance for corruption," adding that: "Ako, I do not countenance corruption. Talagang alam ng mga kasama ko 'yan sa mga departamentong nagtrabaho ako (My colleagues in the departments I worked in know that)."
He also said it would be up to the Chief Executive to decide if he needs to quit from his post.
"Na kay Presidente 'yan... Siya naman ang may ayaw na mag-resign ako ever since," Duque said.
(It's up to the President. Ever since, he doesn't want me to quit.)
Duque's pronouncement came after Bayan Muna party-list Representative Eufemia Cullamat asked him to step down over the deficiencies in the use of P67.32 billion in COVID-19 funds, as flagged by the Commission on Audit (COA).
This is not the first time that calls were made for Duque to resign as DOH Secretary. He was urged to resign amid the rising COVID-19 infections as well as the alleged corruption hounding the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), wherein he is an ex-officio chairman.
Despite all these, the President had been firm in saying that Duque should not quit from his post, saying that he has full trust in him.
Some lawmakers have been urging Duque to resign due to alleged corruption issues within the DOH despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
For Duque, there was no corruption in the agency as every centavo of its budget was being utilized for the welfare of Filipinos, especially health workers, in this time of health crisis.
"Of course wala. So far ako, tingin ko wala akong report na natatanggap na mayroong katiwalian sa pag-angkat at pagbayad ng mga supplies," Duque said.
(Of course, there's none. I don't receive any report about irregularities in our purchase of supplies.)
"Ito namang mga ito na mga malaking bahagi ng Bayanihan 1 and 2, napunta naman para sa mga healthcare workers, benefits, 'yung special risk allowance, 'yung kanilang actual hazard duty pay, 'yung meals allowance, transportation, accommodation... may mga dokumento lahat 'yan," he added.
(The bulk of our budget under Bayanihan 1 and 2 were used for our healthcare workers, their benefits, special risk allowance, hazard pay, meals allowance, transportation, and accommodation. All have been documented.)
In its annual report for 2020, state auditors said the deficiencies were mainly caused by non-compliance with laws, rules, and regulations.
According to COA, a total of P42.41 billion intended for the DOH’s COVID-19 response was transferred to procurement or implementing partner agencies without a memorandum of agreement and other supporting documents.
It added that a total of P11.89 billion had remained unobligated as of December 31 last year.
Duque said the DOH is already addressing concerns raised by the COA.
"Yung COA report, binibigyan ng DOH ng hanggang September 30 para sagutin lahat ng mga findings na naiulat," Duque said.
(In the COA report, the DOH was given until September 30 to answer all the findings raised.)
"Ako, hindi ko na paabutin ng hanggang September 30, pinasasagot ko na 'yan ngayon pa lang na sagutin na 'yang mga findings na 'yan at kaagaran para ipakita na wala tayong tinatago... kung ano 'yung kanilang findings tutugunan 'yan," he added.
(I won't wait until September 30. I already tasked the concerned offices to answer and show that we are not hiding anything.) -MDM, GMA News