'Medyo sintunado lang': Palace denies discord among Duterte men on COVID-19 response

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 21 2020 02:43 PM | Updated as of May 21 2020 05:44 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte holds a meeting with members of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang, May 19, 2020. Karl Norman Alonzo, Presidential Photo

MANILA (UPDATE)- Malacañang denied Thursday that there was discord on the coronavirus response within President Rodrigo Duterte's Cabinet after conflicting statements on critical matters confused the public.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Wednesday told senators that the Philippines was already on its second wave of COVID-19 infections, a statement that was later denied by Palace officials.

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said the health chief did not inform the President of his view that that the Philippines was supposedly already on its second wave of COVID-19 infections.

Asked if there was a problem with coordination among top officials of the administration, Roque said the Duterte Cabinet is "OK" despite conflicting statements.

"Medyo sintunado lang siguro ang isa pero OK naman po ang orchestra," Roque said during a Palace press briefing.

(One is just a bit off-key but the orchestra is fine.)

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año and Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado also denied the supposed discord, saying the Cabinet is "solid" on measures in relation to addressing the pandemic.

"Everything is discussed at the IATF (inter-agency task force) meeting. Every approved resolution is supported by all members of the Cabinet," Año told ABS-CBN News in a text message.

"Kulang lang po ng kaliwanagan sa lahat," Avisado said.

(It just lacks clarity)

It can be recalled that last month, Ernesto Pernia left his post as socioeconomic secretary due to “general” differences he had with other Cabinet members. His exit came as the government struggled to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Ang standing ko, may mga disagreements on what I said, ’yun ang nakakapag-isip sa’kin na panahon na mag-quit muna," Pernia said last month.

(There were disagreements, and eventually that convinced me that it was time for me to quit.)

Pernia was replaced by Karl Kendrick Chua, a former finance assistant secretary.