Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Saturday said he will vacate his post after he addresses all the findings raised by the Commission on Audit (COA) in its report on the Department of Health (DOH).
He made the statement a day after Senator Bong Go told him to make the “supreme sacrifice when the right time comes.”
“‘Yun naman ang aking pakiusap na i-clear ang COA findings, COA observations, ang aming action plan doon sa recommendations and then I am leaving,” Duque said in a Dobol B TV interview.
(That’s my appeal [to the President]. Let me clear the COA findings, COA observations, and our action plans to the recommendations and then I am leaving.)
Duque said he is already talking to the heads of the DOH regional offices, DOH hospitals, and the chiefs of the treatment rehabilitation centers across the country to make sure that they will comply with the COA’s requirements and recommendations.
“It’s a matter of time. ‘Yun naman talaga ang hiningi ko. I’m stepping down… pero bigyan lang ako ng kaunting panahon para maayos namin ng DOH ang lahat ng COA observations and findings,” he said.
(It’s a matter of time. That’s what I am asking for. I’m stepping down but just give me a little more time to fix all the COA observations and findings in the DOH.)
Duque believes that the COVID-19 response will not be affected should he resign from his position, saying the vaccination program is already in place and the supply is already coming in the latter part of the year.
He also assured the public that he did not pocket even half a centavo from the DOH funds.
Should he push through with his resignation, Duque said he considers being the DOH chief during the COVID-19 pandemic as one of his legacies.
“Ako ang naging kalihim [during the pandemic] at huhusgahan ako ng taumbayan kung 'yung bilang ng namatay ba ay napakalaki, katulad ng ibang bansa na daang libo o isang milyon ang namatay. Sa atin naman kahit papaano mismong si Senator [Richard] Gordon na nagsasabi na ang death rate natin ay mababa compared sa ibang bansa,” Duque said.
(I am the [Health] secretary [during the pandemic] and people will judge me with the number of deaths recorded. They will check if the number of deaths is similar to other countries where there are hundreds of thousands or one million people died. Somehow, in our country, the death rate is low compared to other countries, even Senator Gordon said that.)
“So let the people be the judge. ‘Yung judgment na 'yan unfortunately ‘di puwedeng dumating ‘yan ngayon. Matagal pa darating ‘yang judgment na ‘yan kapag halimbawa naayos na ang herd immunity, ang vaccination ng lahat ng mamamayan at maging common cold na lang ang COVID-19. Ibig sabihin malaki ang papel na aking ginampanan diyan, lalong lalo na ang papel na ginampanan ng DOH,” he added.
(So let the people be the judge. Unfortunately, their judgment won’t come soon. We still have to wait until we achieve herd immunity, the people are already vaccinated, or once COVID-19 becomes an ordinary illness like common colds. If we achieve that, it means I have done my role, especially the role of the DOH in handling this health crisis.)
In a recent Talk to the People, President Rodrigo Duterte said he still had no reason to fire Duque.
Duterte, however, said that he would accept if Duque resigned voluntarily. —KG, GMA News