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ABANTE TO DUQUE: MAKE GOOD ON YOUR WORD AND RESIGN

Deputy Speaker Benny Abante Jr. on Thursday said it is time for Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III to make good on his word and hand over his resignation to President Rodrigo Duterte to end the “epidemic of incompetence” hounding the government’s COVID-19 containment efforts.

Duque earlier announced that he will resign after he addressed the audit findings of the DOH.

“Sec. Duque should stop making excuses and just step down. In any case, those audit problems were encountered under his watch, and there is a better chance of uncovering what went wrong if someone competent handles the issue.”

The House leader reiterated that Duque should immediately step down “to give way to a Health secretary who can help restore confidence in government pandemic response efforts.”

“While a pandemic is raging outside and claiming Filipino lives, an epidemic of incompetence and inaction is plaguing our COVID response efforts––and the super spreader is the DOH chief,” the solon from Manila added.

“We have been setting records in the number of new cases daily, our hospitals are overwhelmed, and close to 35,000 Fiipinos have lost their lives. Nagkakalat pa rin si Sec. Duque, at mukhang may mga nahahawa sa kanya,” said an exasperated Abante, who lamented that the government failed to accurately report COVID infection figures on September 8 after the DOH admitted that there were technical issues with COVIDKaya, the Department of Information and Technology’s (DICT) COVID-19 information system.

“Our health department is supposed to lead the charge in this war against COVID, but its leadership appears to have no strategy to win. Ang sagot lagi sa pagtaas ng kaso ay lockdown. Kung hindi lockdown, face shield; wala namang maayos na contact tracing, wala namang comprehensive testing,” added Abante.

The legislator revealed that “these are the frustrations of our constituents, who keep asking us in Congress, when will this all end? Why are other countries able to make progress in their efforts to cope with the pandemic, while our lockdowns cannot even be planned properly and are not announced on time?”

“Our health department is supposed to lead the charge in this war against COVID, but its leadership appears to have no strategy to win.”

Abante was referring to the government’s last-minute decision to extend the MECQ to September 15 after it had earlier announced the shift to GCQ beginning this week. The sudden backtracking, said the solon, hurt a lot of workers in his district, who had hoped to resume their livelihoods.

The House leader reiterated that Duque should immediately step down “to give way to a Health secretary who can help restore confidence in government pandemic response efforts.”

“Sec. Duque has too much baggage. All these allegations about the mishandling of DOH funds, the missteps in handling our health frontliners’ benefits, and the surge in the number of COVID cases have battered his credibility. He needs to go, and he needs to go now.”

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