'Shut up and just cooperate': Ombudsman issues stern warning vs DOH amid probe

Rose Carmelle Lacuata, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 18 2020 08:38 PM

MANILA - Ombudsman Samuel Martires on Thursday issued a warning against an unnamed Department of Health official who he said was trying to put the blame on his office for their alleged lapses.

Speaking on ABS-CBN's Teleradyo, Martires said a certain health official earlier said they were unable to perform their duties well because of paperwork required by the Office of the Ombudsman in its investigation on alleged DOH lapses in the COVID-19 pandemic response.

"'Wag silang magtatangka na gawin kaming sangkalan sa kanilang kakulangan, kung mayroon man silang kakulangan. Kung sasabihin nila, ay hindi namin nai-deliver 'yun dahil itong Ombudsman, hiling nang hiling ng mga papeles eh. That statement alone is an admission na 'yung mga tao below this official who said that ay mga incompetent. Kasi puwede mo namang utusan 'yung mga opisyal mo eh," he said.

(They shouldn't try to blame us for their lapses, if any. If they say that they weren't able to deliver because the Ombudsman asks for a lot of paperwork. That statement alone is an admission of the incompetence of those people under this official who said that. Because you can order your people to do things.)

For Martires, the official can fire subordinates that cannot be trusted.

"So kung wala siyang nauutusan dahil wala siyang pinagkakatiwalaan, aba eh tanggalin niya 'yung mga nasa ilalim niya," he said.

(If that official can't ask them to do things because of lack of trust, the official should fire those under him.)

He also said his office would continue with their investigation, which they started prior to the lockdown but was prolonged because they have been given the "runaround" by some DOH officials and personnel.

"I just hope this official will just cooperate with us. Shut up and just cooperate," Martires said.

 

Martires earlier said he has formed two more teams of investigators and ordered criminal and administrative charges filed against Department of Health (DOH) officials who had given investigators a "runaround" in an earlier probe on issues raised over the purchase of COVID-19 test kits. 

The expanded probe includes Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on the following issues: 

  •  delays in the procurement of personal protective equipment and other medical gear for health workers
  •  "alleged lapses and irregularities" that caused deaths among health workers
  •  delays in the processing and release of benefits for medical workers who died or got severely ill due to COVID-19 
  •  the "confusing and delayed reporting" of coronavirus cases and deaths

DOH has said it "will comply with all directives from the Office of the Ombudsman." 

Duque has received flak over various issues, including the 2-month-delay in the distribution of benefits for health workers infected with COVID-19. Some groups and senators earlier called for his resignation but the President has decided to retain him.