Gordon: Not right time to fire Duque

August 04, 2020

CNN PHILIPPINES— It will be a challenge for the Philippines to change its leadership at the Health Department at the height of a pandemic, but such move may be needed if the agency continues to lose the public’s confidence, a lawmaker said Tuesday.

“You know, you don’t change horses in the middle of the stream… Now, kung inaakala ng mga tao, ng Presidente na kailangang palitan, you have to change,” Senator Richard Gordon told CNN Philippines’ The Source when asked to comment on fresh calls for the resignation of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.

“When the Department of Health no longer has the capability to be believable or credible, maybe it might be time to go already,” he added.

Gordon, however, stressed that if such development takes place, the government should allocate time for a transition period, in order to find a “good replacement” for the key official.

In April, Gordon’s colleagues at the Senate signed a resolution asking Duque to resign for his "failure of leadership, negligence, lack of foresight, and inefficiency" in the measures carried out by the DOH for the country’s COVID-19 crisis response.

The Health Secretary was also earlier subjected to a probe by the Office of the Ombudsman, which sought to tackle supposed irregularities in the DOH’s measures— including delayed procurement of protective equipment for health workers, and confusing reporting of COVID-19 data, among others.

The agency maintained it has remained transparent with the publication of coronavirus numbers in the country.

Despite the repeated calls, President Rodrigo Duterte has continued to express his trust and faith on Duque, rejecting the chamber’s previous proposal.

Meanwhile, Gordon also urged the public to pitch in in the country’s COVID-19 response in their own little ways— by following health protocols to avoid the spread of the virus.

“You want to change the secretary of health, it’s not the secretary of health. We don’t follow the restrictions. We don’t follow distancing, we don’t follow masks. We don’t follow washing of hands. I am not patting him in the back, marami siyang kakulangan. Pero dapat (But still), it starts with us,” Gordon added.

Coronavirus infections in the country have breached the 100,000 mark over the weekend, with the Philippines reporting consecutive record high numbers in daily COVID-19 cases.