Following the uproar over “deficiencies” in the use of COVID-19 funds by the Department of Health (DOH), President Rodrigo Duterte has backtracked on his clear stance that he would not accept embattled Health Secretary Francisco Duque III’s resignation.
During his weekly Monday briefing, Duterte now claimed that he would accept it if Duque would offer to “voluntarily” quit.
“If Duque will offer to resign voluntarily, I will accept ko,” he said, speaking partly in Filipino. “But if I would be the one to tell him ‘you resign,’ that will never happen.”
The President, however, clarified that he would only fire the health secretary if he was corrupt.
"Pero 'pag may nakita akong mali sa kanya, maski P10,000 lang o P5,000, talagang sabi ko yayariin kita, kasi ipahamak mo ako sa tao eh. Nilagay kita diyan tapos sisirain mo ako (But if I see something wrong even if it's only P10,000 or P5,000, I will really get rid of you because you're making me look bad before the people. I paced you there and then you will destroy me)," Duterte said.
A mere week ago, Duterte rejected any voluntary resignation by the health secretary, adding that he would stick behind Duque even if it brought him down.
"Alam ko gusto mo nang mag-resign, pero alam mo rin na tatanggihan kita ngayon," Duterte told Duque.
(I know you want to resign, but you know that I will refuse you.)
"Noon you have attempted to resign twice. I expect you to say something to me after this, mag-resign ka. Sabihin ko sa iyo, hindi. Wala ka namang ginawang masama. Bakit ka mag-resign?" the President went on.
(You have attempted to resign twice before. I expect you to say something to me after this, that you'll resign. I tell you, no. You did nothing wrong. Why will you resign?)
The health chief had previously stated that quitting was not an issue for him, adding that he had been asked not to.
The Commission on Audit (COA) made headlines last week after it reported “deficiencies” in the health department’s handling of some P67-billion ($1.33 billion) COVID-19 funds that led to “missed opportunities” in the government’s pandemic response.
This prompted investigations in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Ana Catalina Paje is a development journalist passionate about grassroots communication geared towards genuine social change. She also writes about showbiz, lifestyle, and all things Pinoy pride. The views expressed are her own.
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