DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Progressive youth group Anakbayan has lobbed the question to at least 14 Senators who recently asked for the resignation of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III for his alleged failure of leadership, negligence, lack of foresight, and inefficiency.

“Duterte is the mastermind behind treating the public health emergency as a peace and order issue, implementing military lockdown, starving millions, instead of pushing through with medical solutions,” said Alex Danday, Anakbayan national spokesperson.

On Thursday (Apr. 16), several senators filed a resolution calling for Duque’s resignation on the grounds of “poor planning, delayed response, lack of transparency, and misguided and flip-flopping policies and measures in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic”.

Senators say that such “ineptitude endangered and continue to endanger the lives of frontliners and the rest of the Filipino people.”

“Our efforts on contact tracing and mass testing came in late, while we called our health workers to arms without the proper equipment to protect themselves,” said Senator Joel Villanueva, co-author of the resolution.

Anakbayan reiterated that it’s not only Duque who should resign but Pres. Duterte as well.

Danday said it was Duterte “who crippled the public health system with incessant cuts in funding and profit-driven policies”. The president, he added, was also reluctant to implement the preemptive travel ban late January, when the risk of the virus could have been minimized.

Villanueva said the DOH chief should empower local governments and take strategic actions that would make the response on the pandemic more efficient. They were also expecting Duque to show he has the necessary qualities to lead the response effectively since the Filipino’s lives are at stake.

Meanwhile, Duque, in a statement, said he will answer all the allegations in due time. Right now, he said, he will continue to be in the trenches with the health care workers and frontliners. (davaotoday.com)

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