Is Duterte eyeing to replace health chief Duque? Palace responds

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 25 2020 01:28 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte confers with Health Secretary Francisco Duque III while holding a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Malacañan Palace on March 9, 2020. Presidential Photo

MANILA - Unless he is removed, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III continues to enjoy the trust of President Rodrigo Duterte, Malacañang said Monday following a report that the chief executive is looking to replace the embattled health chief.

If the President loses confidence in any Cabinet member, he can freely replace the said official, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said in a virtual press briefing.

"We all serve at the pleasure of the President. Kung nawalan po ng tiwala ang Presidente, anytime, any Cabinet member can be removed,” Roque said.

(Until he is not yet removed, it means that there is still trust and confidence.)

"Habang di pa po natatanggal eh mayroon pa pong trust and confidence," he added.

(Until he is removed, there is still trust and confidence.)

Roque made the remark after The Philippine Star reported that Duterte is eyeing to replace Duque.

The health chief last week drew flak for saying that the Philippines is already seeing a second wave of COVID-19 infections, a remark that was denied by Malacañang.

Duterte rejected calls for Duque's resignation last month after senators criticized the health chief's handling of the COVID-19 crisis in the country.

Duque had said he would answer allegations against him "in due time."

"I will continue to serve the country to the best of my abilities...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," he said in April.