Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima criticized President Rodrigo Duterte for tolerating public officials who she describes as “demonstrably incompetent and irresponsible”.

The jailed senator identified these officials as National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) Director Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque and Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III.

“Imagine, the President in the middle of a crisis, not even lifting a finger while already being confronted with solid evidence of ineptitude and lack of regard for public accountability,” she added.

De Lima said that the COVID-19 pandemic is a big challenge for even the most competent of governments around the globe but “worsened” here in the Philippines by “man-made disasters of incompetency and lack of integrity that the very President of this nation not only tolerates, but even worse, grants impunity to.”

The senator said Sinas, who was heavily criticized for allegedly violating quarantine protocols during the surprise 55th birthday party thrown for him, “managed to come up with every excuse” for his alleged violations yet led the filing of a complaint against the so-called ‘Marikina 10’ for carrying out a soup kitchen drive in Marikina for displaced jeepney drivers.

De Lima said it is an “egregious display of double standards in law enforcement”.

On the other hand, De Lima said Duque “has shown ostensible signs of ineptitude in the discharge of his critical job” and “continues to hold his position despite his countless blunders.”

She added how the Senate requested Duque’s resignation as Health Secretary due to his “mismanagement” of the country’s handling of the pandemic yet she noted how Duterte still kept Duque at Health Department

“Pag mahirap, kulong, pag hepe ‘sorry’ lang at OK na dahil malakas ka sa Pangulo? Paano magpapasakop sa batas ang ating mga kababayan kapag nakikita natin na may taong kagaya niya na walang delicadeza at patuloy na inaalagaan ni Duterte kahit lantaran ang paglabag sa batas?” she asked.

Roque, for his part, has displayed recklessness and arrogance, according to De Lima for publicly berating CNN Philippines reporter Triciah Tejada for a report he mistakenly attributed to the reporter.

“Reports from all major news organizations belies Roque’s allegations. In spite of his well-documented error, this abrasive and arrogant Presidential mouthpiece refuses to apologize to the reporter,” she stressed.

De Lima, who was a Human Rights Commission chairperson, said that by keeping Sinas, Roque and Duque, Duterte is eroding the people’s faith in government.

“Mr. Duterte’s insistence in keeping the lawbreakers, the liars and the incompetent in their posts erodes not only our people’s adherence to the rule of law, but also our faith in government to lead us through this pandemic,” she said.

“The COVID-19 pandemic for governments is, above all, a test of leadership and governance. Our failure in containing COVID-19 at the cost of our country’s worst economic downturn in recent history is a direct consequence of ineptitude in the highest office in our land and the people in whom he reposed his trust,” she added.  (Rommel F. Lopez)