MANILA — Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson has on Friday sidestepped the proposal of some pro-administration congressmen to grant President Rodrigo Roa Duterte emergency powers to solve corruption at the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, claiming it would be better to fire Health Secretary Francisco Duque III who also serves as PhilHealth board chairman.
The lawmaker from Cavite found it hard to hide his utter dismay in the Chief Executive’s unchanging “full trust and confidence” in Duque despite the clamor of several sectors to remove him.
It may even be recalled that at least 15 senators filed a resolution urging President Duterte to fire Duque as the health chief allegedly mishandled the country’s campaign against the coronavirus.
“Emergency powers to reorganize Philhealth? Try real, honest-to-goodness, strong political will first. For a start, fire its ex-officio chairman,” Lacson told reporters in a tweet.
The visibly disappointed lawmaker explained in exasperation that it won’t matter how good are the country’s economic managers if the health department is below the level of incompetence in the middle of pandemic “we will all sink before we can even start to swim.”
“Having said that, I couldn’t understand what amulet or magic potion Duque has as far as the President is concerned,” Lacson said.
For one, Lacson said Duque’s failed big time to do simple contact-tracing on the country’s first Covid-19 cases that was further aggravated by his refusal to assume responsibility.
Instead, the senator claimed, Duque blamed other government agencies “when it was his responsibility to coordinate with them.”
Former PhilHealth president and CEO Ricardo Morales and Duque are among those the Senate Committee of the Whole had recommended to be prosecuted for alleged involvement in corrupt practices at the state health insurer.
But Duque had assured that he would cooperate with the investigation and clear his name. (ia)