Ombudsman to investigate Duque, other health officials for ‘alleged irregularities’

Ombudsman Samuel Martires announced today that he is ordering an investigation of Secretary Francisco Duque and other Department of Health (DOH) officials for their alleged mismanagement of the government’s anti-coronavirus drive.

Martires said in a statement that he has ordered the creation of investigative teams to look into the “alleged irregularities and anomalies” committed by Duque and other DOH personnel.

Read: ‘Failure of Leadership’: Senators urge Duque to resign amid rising COVID-19 cases

The team will probe the DOH’s purchase of 100,000 COVID-19 test kits; the invention of test kits by scientists from the University of the Philippines; the allegedly delayed procurement of protective gear for frontliners; the supposed “lapses and irregularities” that led to the death and infection of thousands of medical professionals; the delay in the release of benefits to frontliners who have died of COVID-19; and the “confusing and delayed” reporting of deaths caused by the coronavirus.

The ombudsman added that before Metro Manila went into lockdown on March 15, an initial fact-finding team started to investigate the DOH, but the department gave them the runaround by referring them from one office to another. Because of this, Martires has authorized the investigating teams to file the necessary charges against any DOH employee who refuses to cooperate, “willfully obstructs,” and “willfully misleads” the Office of the Ombudsman.

Read: Duterte orders Duque to release virus-hit health workers’ benefits ‘immediately’

Several lawmakers had asked Duque to resign in April for allegedly bungling the government’s response in the pandemic. The senators said Duque’s “failure of leadership,” “lack of foresight,” and “inefficiency” could be blamed for the DOH’s “poor planning, delayed response, lack of transparency, and misguided and flip-flopping policies” in addressing the pandemic. Duque said he doesn’t understand why he was being urged to resign by the senators and said that unity was what the government needed so that it could succeed in curbing the spread of COVID-19.

Early this month Senator Sonny Angara, a recovered COVID-19 patient, divulged that families of frontliners who had died of the disease have yet to receive their promised benefits. Instead of owning up to it, Duque publicly blamed his staff, whom he accused of working without a sense of urgency.

 

This article, Ombudsman to investigate Duque, other health officials for ‘alleged irregularities’, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!