MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Thursday expressed confidence that the Office of the Ombudsman’s investigation into the alleged irregularities in the Department of Health’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis won’t affect the credibility of the agency and the government task force.
In a televised briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that at this point, health officials and other personalities involved in the probe are “presumed innocent until proven guilty.”
“Kung mapapansin ninyo naman po ang IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) po talaga, lahat po ng departamento, it’s a whole government approach, it’s not just the DOH although the DOH po has the position of leadership,” Roque said.
The Palace official also relayed that President Rodrigo Duterte believes that Health Secretary Francisco Duque III will be able to respond to the allegations being investigated by the Ombudsman.
“Kampante po ang president na masasagot po ni Secretary Duque lahat po ‘yang alegasyon sa Ombudsman,” he said.
He added that the president “has time and again expressed his continuing trust and confidence” in Duque whose leadership at the health agency has been beset by controversies.
The Office of the Ombudsman earlier said it will launch an investigation into the supposed irregularities in the DOH’s response against COVID-19.
The probe would cover the purchase of coronavirus disease test kits, delayed procurement of personal protective equipment and other supplies for healthcare workers and the rising number of fatalities among medical workers amid the public health crisis, as well as the delay in the release of financial assistance to healthcare workers who have fallen severely ill and died due to coronavirus disease.
Duque earlier said he is ready to face the Ombudsman probe. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)
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