Senate to summon Duque to explain DOH actions during coronavirus crisis - Lacson

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 17 2020 01:41 PM

MANILA - The Senate is expected to summon Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to explain his alleged "failure in leadership" during the coronavirus crisis and other issues raised in a resolution that called for his resignation, Sen. Panfilo Lacson said Friday.

Citing Duque's alleged inadequate response to contain the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), at least 14 senators earlier signed a resolution seeking his resignation, but President Rodrigo Duterte said his health chief would stay.

"As a matter of course, a public hearing will be conducted after first reading [of the resolution]," Lacson told reporters in a text message, referring to the resolution filed Thursday. 

"Not only will it give Sec. Duque the opportunity to explain his side, it will also give all other resource persons in the medical community and whoever may be invited to shed light to further articulate their views with the end in view of passing relevant legislation on our part," he said.

"At the end of the day, the public will be enlightened after witnessing for themselves the open discussion of issues at hand," he said.

Among issues raised in Senate Resolution No. 362 were the Department of Health's (DOH) failure to stockpile on medical equipment that left several health workers exposed to the highly-contagious virus, as well as delayed and contradicting policies that worsened the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

"Ang kino-consider namin i-refer sa Committee of the Whole pero paguusapan namin 'yan, ica-caucus namin 'yan para organized," Lacson said in a radio interview.

(We are considering to refer the resolution to the Committee of the Whole, but we are still discussing it, we will have a caucus so that it will be organized.)

"'Pag Committee of the Whole, Senate President ang magpe-preside," he said.

(If we refer it to the Committee of the Whole, the Senate President will preside.)

If not, the resolution is expected to be referred to the Senate Committee on Health. 

Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go, Senate health committee chair, earlier said he was not in favor of a change in DOH leadership during the coronavirus crisis.

Health officials should be held accountable after the crisis, Go had said.

Responding to the resolution, Duque said Thursday he was "hurt" by the resignation call, saying he did not understand the "lack of leadership" that senators cited in their resolution.

The resolution against Duque is expected to be tackled once Congress resumes session on May 4, 2020.