Dismayed solons slam health chief

February 05, 2020

LAWMAKERS were dismayed over Health Secretary Francisco Duque’s absence  at yesterday’s public hearing in the House of Representatives regarding the 2019 novel coronavirus (N-CoV).

One of those upset is Muntinlupa City Rep. Ruffy Biazon who advised Duque to get his priorities in order.

Duque and other officials of the Department of Health (DoH) were summoned by the House Committee on Metro Manila Development to give updates and information on how the government is addressing the n-CoV.

The Health Secretary failed to attend because he is in Nueva Ecija to inspect a quarantine facility in Fort Magsaysay.

Filipinos and other foreigners coming from any part of China, including Hong Kong and Macau will be placed under 15-day quarantine in Fort Magsaysay to be observed for possible n-CoV.  Meanwhile, all Chinese coming from any part of China, Hong Kong and Macau are not allowed to enter the Philippines.

Duque went to Fort Magsaysay on orders of President Rodrigo Duterte. The facility in the military reserve will serve as a quarantine area for Filipinos set to be repatriated from China on Saturday, February 8.

“Pakiparating po kay Secretary Duque: Ayusin ho niya ang kanyang priorities,” Biazon told heads of various DOH bureaus present during the hearing.

“So I guess this shows the type of priorities that the Secretary has. As the overall in-charge of handling this crisis, I believe he should have been there. Hindi ‘yong pag-iinspekto na lang ng mga kuwarto,” he added.

Manila Rep. Manuel Lopez, chairman of the committee, agreed with Biazon.

“We would not like to lambast the Secretary...pero ang nais lang po namin ipaalam sa kanya [ay] baka nakakalimutan niya ang paalala namin kung anu-ano po ang kapangyarihan na binigay po sa kanya ng Republika ng Pilipinas,” Lopez said.

Last week, Duque had already appeared before the House during the question hour in the plenary session.

To date, one Chinese male, confirmed with N-CoV, has died in the Philippines. More than 100 are being observed.

This 44-year-old Chinese man is one of two confirmed coronavirus cases in the country along with a 38-year-old woman, with whom he traveled from Wuhan via Hong Kong, to the Philippines.