Duterte reiterates support for Duque: 'I will stand by him'

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 24 2021 11:45 PM

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte defended embattled Health Secretary Francisco Duque III anew on Tuesday amid the controversies the Department of Health (DOH) is facing.

Duterte, who has repeatedly defended Duque from critics, reiterated his support for the health secretary, who he said has been "painted black" because of the controversy.

"So nasisira si Duque, nasisira lahat sa Department of Health. At ako naman, it would reflect on me as president. That is why I was so interested, I followed it up with them," he said in a taped national address that aired Tuesday night.

(So Duque was destroyed, everyone in the Department of Health were destroyed. And for me, it will reflect on me as president. That is why I was so interested, I followed it up with them.)

"Pero ayun, tapos na. Napinturahan na si Duque ng itim. Puting-puti niya. If you want to destroy your enemy, just paint him black. Ganoon 'yan eh," Duterte added.

(But it already happened. Duque has been painted black. He was very white. If you want to destroy your enemy, just paint him black. It's like that.)

The Commission on Audit earlier flagged the DOH's use of some P67 billion in COVID-19 funds, tagging "deficiencies" in the health department's funds of some P67 billion that led to "missed opportunities" to combat the coronavirus pandemic. 

Duterte said it will be unfair to fire Duque, especially after the COA clarified that there was no corruption in the DOH.

"Lahat ito, it could be projects, it could be purchases, it could be something else, but at the end of the day, it is still money. So it's very important ngayon, especially with the, 'yung finding ng COA, which turned out to be walang corruption, walang nawala, ngayon na lang sinasabi nila. And yet the damage had already been done," he said.

(All of these, it could be projects, it could be purchases, it could be something else, but at the end of the day, it is still money. So it's very important now, especially with the findings of COA, which turned out that there was no corruption, there was nothing missing, they just said it now. And yet the damaged had already been done.)

"Ako, fair lang talaga ako. May nagsasabi na makakasira daw sa akin 'yan, si Duque, then so be it. I will not commit an act of... Mahirap. It could be one million persons, it could only be one. Hindi ko kaya na kinuha ko si Duque, nilagay ko diyan. Tapos ngayon 'yung COA iba iba ang findings, napinturahan siya ng itim. Ako ang kumuha, tapos I'll just fire him? For what? Where is your sense of fairness?" Duterte added.

(Me, I'm fair. They are saying that this will destroy me, Duque, then so be it. I will not commit an act of...It's difficult. It could be one millions persons, it could only be one. I cannot do it when I appointed Duque and placed him there, and now because of the COA findings he was painted black. I appointed him and now I'll just fire him? For what? Where is your sense of fairness?)

Duterte said he will not ask Duque to resign, but he will accept his decision should he volunteer to do so.

"Ngayon kung si Duque will offer to resign voluntarily, tatanggapin ko. Pero kung sabihin mo na ako ang magsabi sa kanya na magresign ka, that will never happen. That will never happen," he said.

(Now if Duque will offer to resign voluntarily, then I will accept it. But if you tell me that I ask him to resign, that will never happen. That will never happen.)

"Maski kami na lang ni Duque and the rest of the Philippines, I will stand by him. 'Pag nasira ako, eh di nasira. But I will never abandon a person just like that, na aanuhin mo na walang kasalanan. Mahirap 'yan," Duterte added.

(Even if there will only be the two of us and the rest of the Philippines, I will stand by him. If it destroys me, then so be it. But I will never abandon a person just like that, that I will fire him even when he did nothing wrong. That is difficult.)

Duterte, meanwhile, told COA to put a "preamble" in its annual reports that there was no evidence of corruption, so that it will be clear to those who will read the reports.

"Ang akin lang is the presentation. Dapat 'yan, in your findings, there should be a sort of a preamble na this is an audit report, tapos wala kaming nakita, there is no corruption, there is no loss of funds, tapos bago ninyo i-summarize lahat. Para ang tao na magbasa is put on notice that he is reading something other than corruption and malpractices," he said.

(For me it's just the presentation. In their findings, there should be a sort of preamble where they say that this is an audit report and we didn't find evidence of corruption, that there was no loss of funds. So that the people who will read it is put on notice that he is reading something other than corruption and malpractices.)

Duterte has been defending Duque and the DOH since the COA's 2020 report was first released early this month.

In his taped speech last week, Duterte called the corruption allegations against DOH "pure bullshit", saying the COA-flagged funds were not stolen.

He also urged the Cabinet secretaries to just follow his orders and ignore the reports by COA.

In another taped address aired last Saturday, Duterte said he won't fire Duque even if the issue brings him down.

COA is an independent body constitutionally mandated to audit public spending. It has been regularly posting its audit reports on its website for transparency. 

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