MANILA — Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said on Thursday that he would respond to calls for his resignation in “due time” as the country is still facing the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said this after at least 14 senators signed a resolution calling for his resignation due to “failure of leadership” in addressing the outbreak.
“We will answer these allegations in due time, but right now, we will continue to be in the trenches with our health care workers and frontliners,” Duque said in a statement released by the Department of Health.
He said Filipinos should “work as a team.”
“I will continue to serve the country to the best of my abilities. Magtulungan po tayo (Let's help each other out),” Duque added.
In his statement, the health official said the country is at war “with an invisible enemy” that is also unpredictable.
“Despite all the challenges and limited resources, DOH is making sure that we, as a nation, have a fighting chance against COVID-19,” he said.
Senate Resolution no. 362 filed on Thursday and signed by senators from the majority bloc said Duque "failed to put in place the necessary precautionary measures to lessen, if not at all prevent, the impact of this health crisis.”
“Rather than providing enlightening viewpoint on the problems and challenges confronting the country in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the present Secretary's actions... show lack of competence, efficiency, and foresight bordering on negligence in handling the health crisis," the senators wrote.
The resolution cited Duque's delay in recommending a travel ban to and from China, the origin of the virus, lack of transparency in releasing information on coronavirus cases, and supposed attempts to hush reporting of COVID-19 cases at the state-run mental hospital.
As of Wednesday, the Philippines has recorded 5,453 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Philippines. This is the highest number of cumulative cases among countries in Southeast Asia.
The Philippines also has among the largest number of deaths in the region at 349. While the number of recoveries finally started to increase, the country is still lagging behind Malaysia and Thailand in terms of recorded recoveries.