MANILA - Senator Manny Pacquiao on Monday urged President Rodrigo Duterte to replace Health Sec. Francisco Duque III for missing the country's chance to secure COVID-19 vaccines by as early as next month.
Duque allegedly failed to submit documents needed for the Philippines to receive by January the vaccines manufactured by Pfizer. He had denied "dropping the ball" in the supposed deal.
"Sayang. Dapat this January, may vaccine na tayo, yung Pfizer. But masasabi natin na talagang kapalpakan yan ng ating DOH (Department of Health), si Secretary Duque," Pacquiao told ANC's Headstart.
(That's too bad. We could have had a vaccine by January, the one from Pfizer. We can really say this was a failure by our DOH, by Secretary Duque.)
"I’m sorry to say that, but prangka kasi ako magsalita e. Prangka ako magsalita na like I said, napapahiya ang ating Pangulo pagka ganun," he said, adding that he has nothing against the Cabinet official, whom he described as a "good man."
(I'm sorry to say that, but I'm frank. I am frank in saying that our President is embarrassed by situations like that.)
Asked for his message to the President, Pacquiao said: "Ang mensahe ko siguro is palitan na siya para magkaroon ng comparison sa ibang may mga kaya din...May mga kaya din na mga leader natin na nag-aambisyon din na mamuno d'yan sa DOH na 'yan. Pagbigyan para makumpara natin kung ano yung perfomance ng isang tao."
(My message is, to replace him, so that there would be a comparison with others who may be capable also. There are leaders who want to lead DOH. Let's give them a chance so we could compare their people's performance.)
“Ang pakiusap ko kay Pangulo na kung pwede, palitan na lang n'ya si Sec. Duque para maibsan naman yung hinaing ng ating mga kababayan," he added.
(My plea to the President, if possible, replace Sec. Duque to ease the suffering of our countrymen.)
Pacquiao was among 13 senators who urged Duque to step down through a resolution earlier this year. But Duterte decided to keep him in the Cabinet, even defending him from criticisms.