'Trabaho mo maganda': Duterte says can't find basis for Duque's suspension

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 02 2020 08:28 PM | Updated as of Nov 02 2020 09:15 PM

'Trabaho mo maganda': Duterte says can't find basis for Duque's suspension 1
Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III join the meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members presided by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang on Aug. 2, 2020. King Rodriguez, Presidential Photo/File

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte said Monday he could not find "any plausible or even a meager argument" to suspend Health Secretary Francisco Duque, after more lawmakers sought to hold the latter accountable for alleged corruption and his failure to properly manage the coronavirus pandemic at its onset.

Duterte, in his first live televised speech since his State of the Nation Address (SONA) in July, said he "liked" Duque's "surveillance and the vigilance in keeping track of possible outbreak."

"That’s why I cannot find any plausible or even a meager argument for your suspension. Wala akong nakitang ano. Trabaho mo maganda, with the surveillance that you are doing and the vigilance, public health, is amply protected," he said. 

(I can't find anything wrong. Your work is good.)

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A House joint panel last week approved a committee report holding some officials of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), its board chairman Duque, and several Cabinet members liable for alleged corruption in the agency.

The Senate earlier recommended charges against Duque for alleged irregularities at the state insurance agency. 

Whistleblowers had earlier told lawmakers that several PhilHealth officials allegedly pocketed P15 billion in state funds, and approved the request of overpriced projects and fund releases to supposedly favored hospitals. 

Duque had already denied involvement in the alleged corruption schemes in PhilHealth. 

Several senators also called for his resignation in April for his "failure of leadership" in addressing the coronavirus crisis.

Last week, Duterte also vouched for his health chief saying the latter did not steal public funds.

Duterte has issued a memorandum directing the Department of Justice to look into anomalies at state agencies until the end of his term in 2022. It gives the ministry the power to decide what allegations to investigate and to work with other agencies.

"I hope that all government workers, officials are listening. This is a memorandum from me to Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra... The subject is investigate of allegations of corruption in the entire government--Lahat (everything)," he said in a taped speech last month.

—with reports from RG Cruz and Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News