Malacañang can choose from any of the thousands of physicians in the Philippines to replace Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, Senator Panfilo Lacson tweeted Monday.

“The president is reportedly scouting for a new DOH secretary. One reporter asked if I have somebody in mind, I told her there are many among the 170,000 licensed physicians in the country who may be more honest and competent,” Lacson tweeted.

In a separate text message to reporters, Lacson said that any of the 170,000 licensed physicians in the country are all his candidates to replace the current Health secretary.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III also hoped that if President Duterte would seek Duque’s replacement, he would find someone “with health expertise and no business interests.”

Sotto might be alluding to Lacson’s earlier charge that the regional office of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PHIC) in Dagupan City is renting its office spaces in a building owned by Duque’s family.  Duque is the ex officio chair of the PHIC’s board.

“If this is not conflict of interest I don’t know what is. Building mo, naka-contract of lease ka (It’s your building, you’re in the contract of lease), and that is a family corporation. Educational and Medical Dev’t Corp. Tapos (And) you are a member of the board,” he said back in June 2019.

“Narito ang (Here’s the) general information sheet. And the signatory in the contract of lease is his own sister. I have the documents already.”

Duque came under fire after his “flip-flopping” statements about the country experiencing the second wave of COVID-19, the alleged overpriced COVID-19 testing equipment bought by the government, and the questionable cost of the PHIC’s testing package.

The Palace recently said Duque should be allowed to perform his job of addressing the threat of COVID-19 in the country amid mounting criticisms against him.

However, reports surfaced that Duterte is supposedly scouting for Duque’s replacement.

Last month, 15 senators filed a resolution seeking the Duque’s immediate resignation over his alleged “failure of leadership, negligence, lack of foresight and inefficiency.”

The Health Secretary, however, remain unfazed after the Palace said Duterte wants Duque to “stay put.”