Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon scorned President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent pronouncement that Health Secretary Francisco Duque III is the “hero” behind the government’s “good Covid-19 response”. 

When asked for his reaction to Duterte’s statement towards Duque, Drilon said in an interview over the ABS-CBN News Channel on Wednesday,  “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.”

Drilon believes that Duque, the current chairperson of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), is the person to be blamed for the government’s failure in managing Covid-19 pandemic.

Drilon said the health chief failed to immediately recommend the closure of borders with China when the pandemic first broke on January 30 last year, when the Philippies recorded its first — a 38-year-old woman from Wuhan, China.

“Now we have 17,000 deaths and over a million cases, and that was because of that first error,” he added. 

The Philippines was supposed to get 10 million doses of vaccine from the United States-based pharmaceutical Pfizer, Drillon recalled.

It was later disclosed by Senator Panfilo Lacson that it was Duque who failed to submit a confidentiality agreement that broke the vaccine deal with Pfizer.

Drilon said the government’s failure to advance pay for vaccines making the country “at the end of the queue, insofar as the availability of COVID-19 [vaccine] is concerned.”

In his pre-recorded speech aired Monday evening, Duterte hailed Duque as “the hero” responsible for the government’s “good” response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Compared with other countries, which is not the time to make comparisons, we’re doing good in the fight against Covid.  Secretary Duque is the hero there,” Duterte said.

Duterte made the comment after noting the high number of patients who had recovered from the deadly disease.

“The president said he (Duque) is a hero, and I am laying out on the table the facts that we have seen, among others: we have had no tracking system that can effectively track those who are infected, our testing system is very deficient and very expensive,” Drilon said.  Ronald dela Cruz