‘Unfair’ to accuse Duque of ‘failure of leadership’ on new coronavirus outbreak: Palace

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 05 2020 04:27 PM

Health Secretary Francis Duque reacts during a committee hearing on government preparedness and response to the spread of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) at the Senate, February 4, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Accusing Health Secretary Francisco Duque III of “failure of leadership” over the Philippines’ handling of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak is “unfair,” Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said Wednesday as he assured Filipinos of efforts to contain the situation.

Senators on Tuesday criticized Duque over the slow contact tracing of passengers on the same flights as Manila’s first 2 confirmed cases of the virus after the health chief admitted that only 17 percent have been contacted.

Opposition Sen. Francis Pangilinan called it a “failure of leadership” on Duque's part. 

“’Yung failure of leadership, I think that’s a very unfair allegation. Maybe there are lapses, but that will be rectified,” Nograles told reporters in Malacañang.

“Secretary Duque—with all of the circumstances, with all of the situation—he’s hands-on with everything. He’s done his job so far,” he added.

The government has been trying to monitor passengers who came in contact with a Chinese couple who tested positive for the novel coronavirus to check if they are also carriers of the communicable virus. 

The woman remains in hospital as she remains viral despite having no symptoms, while the man died on Saturday. 

The Philippines confirmed its third case of the virus on Wednesday.

Nograles added that Duque continues to enjoy the trust of President Rodrigo Duterte and that calls for the health chief to resign at this point are unnecessary.

“The President still has his trust and confidence kay Secretary Duque and at this point in time na umaarangkada naman at ginagawa naman ng DOH ang lahat (that efforts are going forward and the DOH is doing everything), I think it’s not the call of the time to do something as drastic as that,” Nograles said.

“Let’s not take away all of the other efforts the DOH family is doing. Let’s not take that away from them,” he added.

The Philippines currently has 133 patients under investigation for the new coronavirus. Of this number, 16 have been discharged but remain under strict monitoring.