CNN Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday rejected calls for Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to resign, deciding to keep him in his post, according to Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.
“The President has made a decision for Health Secretary Duque to stay put,” Medialdea said in a text message to Malacañang reporters.
Medialdea said Duterte appreciates the senators for giving him the opportunity to weigh his options on Duque’s performance.
The Executive Secretary added that Duque was already informed of the sentiments of the senators and that Duterte expects him to work harder to cast away doubts on his capacity and sincerity.
Prior to Malacañang’s announcement, Duque had already said in a statement that he “will continue to be in the trenches with our health care workers and frontliners.”
“I will continue to serve the country to the best of my abilities,” he said.
A resolution signed by at least 14 senators from the 24-member chamber sought Duque's resignation for his "failure of leadership, negligence, lack of foresight, and inefficiency" in the measures and actions carried out by the department he heads.
Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel "Migz" Zubiri, Senators Juan Edgardo "Sonny" Angara, Nancy Binay, Grace Poe, Emmanuel "Manny" Pacquiao, Sherwin Gatchalian, Francis Tolentino, Joel Villanueva, Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa, Imee Marcos, Lito Lapid, Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr., and Panfilo "Ping" Lacson signed the resolution released on Thursday.
Sotto said two more lawmakers are backing the call, but have yet to sign the resolution. Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan said opposition solons are also supporting the resolution.
The senators said Duque's "poor planning, delayed response, lack of transparency, and misguided and flip-flopping policies and measures" in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic is endangering the lives of healthcare workers and all Filipinos.