President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night said he will not accept Health Secretary Francisco Duque III’s offer to resign over “deficiencies” in his department’s handling of the P67.32 billion funds for the country’s Covid-19 response.
In a prerecorded public address, Duterte recalled how Duque had “attempted” to resign twice, so he was expecting him to do it again.
“ I know you want to resign, but I will refuse you,” he said partly in Filipino.
Duterte insisted that Duque should not resign because he did “nothing wrong.”
“I expect you to say something to me after this, that you’ll resign. Let me tell you, no. You did nothing wrong. Why will you resign?” he added partly in Filipino.
Duterte said those who believed that Duque was corrupt should file charges before the Supreme Court.
“In the end, if you find that there is something missing, some P500, then file a case before the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court will be a fair arbiter of things,” he said.
He said he would not allow any of his Cabinet members to steal from public funds.
“ I’m the President and I promised that I will protect you, it includes your money. Do you think I will allow a Cabinet member to steal even P1,000)? You really think that I would allow it?” he added partly in Filipino.
Duterte said the deficiencies discovered by the Commission on Audit (COA) could be attributed to incomplete paperwork, stressing that it does not automatically mean that money is being stolen.
“ When COA says there’s a deficiency, it does not mean the money was stolen, deficiency is really in producing the necessary documents,” he said partly in Filipino.
Duterte has defended Duque in several speeches amid calls for him to resign over controversies in the government’s Covid-19 response and irregularities involving the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).
He had repeatedly said that he still has full trust in Duque.
On Friday, the COA clarified its report noting that “deficiencies” did not mention findings linked to corruption.