NOT TIME TO RESIGN. President Rodrigo Roa Duterte talks to the people after holding a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang on Monday (Sept. 7, 2020). Duterte told Health Secretary Francisco Duque III (right) this is not the time for him to resign amid probe on allegations of corruption in the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (Presidential photo by Ace Morandante)

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte believes that Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III should not heed calls for him to step down from office.

“Secretary Duque, this is not the time for you to resign,” Duterte said in a taped public address on Monday night.

The Senate committee of the whole earlier recommended the filing of criminal charges against Duque and others over the alleged massive corruption in the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).

Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Duque, PhilHealth’s ex-officio chairperson, should not be claiming he is innocent since he is responsible for the activities of all the agencies that are under his jurisdiction

However, Duterte expressed full trust and confidence in Duque, saying he believes that the DOH chief was not corrupt.

“As of now, I have full… I said there’s a — there’s an investigation going on. Let it be if you are not guilty of corruption,” he said.

Duterte, however, said he could not turn a blind eye to controversies hounding the PhilHealth saying he would still review the findings of the Senate committee.

“Ang kalaban ko lang ho ‘yung corruption (My only enemy is corruption). Well, let us see doon sa ano mo ‘yung negligence mo (what it says about your negligence),” he said.

‘Same boat’

Duterte said he understood what it was like handling a “big organization” since he was once mayor and now President.

“Talagang mane-negligent ka kasi hindi mo mahabol minsan eh and sometimes mawala ‘yung papel (You will really be negligent because sometimes you won’t be able to chase papers and sometimes they get lost). The one that really matters to me. What matters is ‘yung (the) corruption,” he said.

Duque did not have “any reason” to resign if he is not corrupt, he added.

According to Duterte, he and Duque were on the same boat” in terms of keeping watch over the activities of several agencies.

He compared it to making background checks before deciding on appointments and looking over contracts of loans.

“Kaya naintindihan kita (That’s why I understand you) if it’s just negligence of coming up with the papers on time,” he said.

Duque, meanwhile, thanked Duterte for his continued trust in him.

He earlier dismissed allegations as “baseless” and vowed to clear his name. (PNA)