After the Senate and PHAPI, who’s next to ask for Duque’s head?

Don’t change horses in midstream.

US President Abraham Lincoln

This explains why Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is dilly-dallying in replacing Health Secretary Francisco Duque who had been committing blunders in the battle against Coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III  (PCOO / MANILA BULLETIN)
Health Secretary Francisco Duque (Source: PCOO)

It should be noted that at least 14 senators co-authored Senate Resolution No. 362 that called on Duque to tender his resignation for his “failure of leadership, negligence, lack of foresight, and inefficiency in performance.” The country is in the current state of the Covid-19 pandemic because of the Health Secretary’s “poor planning, delayed response, lack of transparency, and misguided and flip-flopping polices and measures”.

The Senate resolution came two weeks after the Philippines hit the highest record of new cases in one day (538 Covid-19 cases on April 1), and three days after the country registered the highest number of deaths (50 deaths on April 13). These, after Duque boasted that the Philippines is a model country in terms of fighting the Coronavirus disease, and a failed move to sack the head of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine for refusing to do VIP testing of politicians and their families.

As if the blunders were not enough, and in apparent move to lift his own chair, Duque announced that the country is already on the second wave of Coronavirus pandemic. This created confusion and no one but the Malacanang itself cleared the mess and refuted Duque’s statement.

When it rains, it pours. Unfortunately, the rain is causing a water build-up that this time, it is the 744-member Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines Inc. (PHAPI) that is asking for Duque’s head. Apparently, the PhilHealth is not reimbursing these hospitals on time that most of them are already financially drained. and Duque has not done anything about it.

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Duque may have been fighting the virus in different fronts. Unfortunately, the health general is not doing well in the battlefields other than what he mastered in. In the political front, he still remains a minion compared to the non-health experts running the Inter-agency Task Force against Covid, or Senator Bong Go who is considered the alter-ego of the President on all things — including health which is supposedly Duque’s turf. Hence, to make himself also appear significant, he was able to utter the “second wave” claim without any scientific basis.

With the Malacanang neither confirming nor denying that the President is already moonlighting for his replacement, some groups in the Lower House are already considering of passing a resolution similar to that of the Senate. A petition is likewise circulating among civil society organizations asking the Health Secretary to resign.

Whether a change in the Health Department is good or bad in the mid-fight against Covid-19 we cannot say for sure. But as everybody gets tired and weary because of this pandemic, and as inefficiencies in the health department continue to pile up, it is not inevitable that groups will really stand-up and ask for Duque’s head.

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