MANILA – Led by Senate President Tito Sotto, 15 senators on Thursday filed a resolution seeking the immediate resignation of Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque amid the worsening coronavirus health crisis.

The resolution was co-authored by 15 Senators namely: SP Tito Sotto, Ralph Recto, Migz Zubiri, Sonny Angara, Nancy Binay, Grace Poe, Manny Pacquiao, Win Gatchalian, Francis Tolentino, Joel Villanueva, Ronald dela Rosa, Imee Marcos, Lito Lapid, Bong Revilla and Ping Lacson.   

In the still unnumbered resolution, the 15 senators pointed out the health department chief must immediately resign or vacate his post for his “failure of leadership, negligence, lack of foresight, inefficiency in the performance of his mandate” amid the COVID-19 crisis.

And this, they said, “resulted in poor planning, delayed response, lack of transparency and misguided flip-flopping policies and measures on COVID-19.”

The senators added that DOH’s weak policies in addressing COVID-19 “continue to endanger the lives of our healthcare professionals, frontliners and the Filipino people.”

At 2:25 p.m. Thursday, the country holds 5,453 confirmed cases and counting; 353 recovered patients and 349 fatalities.

Duque’s ad interim appointment as Secretary of DOH came out in October 2017.

He was later confirmed DOH Secretary on February 9, 2018.

Duque is no stranger to resign calls but the recent call for him to step down by the 15 senators could prove as the biggest threat ever to come his way.

Only recently netizens also urged Duque to give way to other more competent professionals.

Mainstream media columnists also called President Rodrigo Duterte’s attention to immediately replace Duque with someone Filipinos can depend on amid the COVID-19 crisis they said.

One columnist even claimed that “since the start, Duque has been highly criticized for his handling of the COVID-19 situation. He had been accused of withholding information and holding the release of PPE (personal protective equipment).”

Inefficiency by the DOH to immediately deploy and distribute PPEs to health workers, some quarters aver, as the main cause why many medical practitioners died amid the fight against the killer virus.

The Philippine Medical Association claims around 20 medical practitioners have died working on the frontline. 

Potential candidates

Meanwhile, names of potential candidates to replace Duque are Dr. Tony Leachon and former Masbate Representative Scott Davies Lanete.

Netizens aver the said individuals possess far better administrative acumen compared to Duque.

Dr. Leachon is actively monitoring the disease and he uses to give out updates on his YouTube account on the coronavirus.

The same source also said that “he (Duque) has also been accused of sitting on the accreditation of rapid test kits, even as he remains silent on Senator Manny Pacquaio’s use of such” before.

“Such criticisms are not helping a bit in the fight against this deadly virus. Duque’s irresponsibility is taking its toll on the Duterte administration,” another columnist wrote on his column at Manila Standard.

“I maintain that we should not change horses in the middle of the stream. Still, it would not hurt to dump a few deadweights along the way,” he said as he subtly urged the President to replace Duque.

A Mindanao-based columnist Jun Ledesma also urged President Duterte in his column titled “Sir, please fire him (Duque).”

Ledesma cited in detail in his column at the Philippine News Agency “Duque’s shortcomings at a time when he is supposed to display primal leadership quality amid the COVID-19 fight.” (ia/sovereignph.com)  

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