Duterte confident Duque can handle Ombudsman probe: Palace

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 18 2020 01:27 PM

Duterte confident Duque can handle Ombudsman probe: Palace 1
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-- President Rodrigo Duterte is confident that Health Secretary Francisco Duque III can handle the investigation of the Office of the Ombudsman on alleged "lapses" in the health department's COVID-19 response, Malacañang said Thursday.

Ombudsman Samuel Martires on Wednesday said he formed additional teams of investigators to look into alleged anomalies committed by Department of Health officials, including Duque in relation to the handling of the COVID-19 outbreak.

"Kampante naman po ang Presidente na masasagot po ni Secretary Duque lahat po 'yang mga alegasyon sa Ombudsman," Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said in a Palace press briefing.

(The President is confident that Secretary Duque can answer all of the allegations before the Ombudsman)

"The President has time and again expressed his continuing trust and confidence kay Secretary Duque," he added.

The health department, in a statement, had said that it would cooperate with authorities over the investigation.

"DOH officials will willingly cooperate with the authorities to ensure utmost transparency throughout the duration of the investigation and beyond," the agency said in a statement.

It added that it "has been transparent in the COVID-19 response, including procurement transactions and the provision of benefits to healthcare workers."

Duque has repeatedly drawn flak over his office's pandemic response as cases in the country continued to rise amid eased quarantine restrictions.

The health chief survived resignation calls in April and then received crticism earlier this month for passing the blame on his staff over delays in the release of cash benefits for health workers who died or suffered severe symptoms of COVID-19. 

He later apologized and acknowledged responsibility.