President Rodrigo Roa Duterte confers with Health Secretary Francisco Duque III (left) during the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) meeting at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang on May 25, 2020.  At center, looking on is Senator Bong Go. ACE MORANDANTE/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO


Health Secretary Francisco Duque III expressed his delight over President Rodrigo Duterte’s continuous support for him as DOH chief even amidst numerous calls for his resignation due to incompetence, stating that the President’s trust in him is “incomparable”.

“Ako ay natutuwa na pinabulaanan niya. Iyong tiwala ni Pangulo, parang iyong kasabihan na I would take a bullet for this guy,” Duque said.

“Iyong tiwala niya, walang katumbas. Iyong appreciation niya sa ginagawa namin,” he added.

He downplayed numerous calls for him to step down as Health chief due to perceived consistent failures to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, his flip-flopping statements about the state of the country’s health crisis and the alleged overpriced personal protective equipment purchased by the DOH. 

“Iyong panawagan na iyon, maraming nagsasabi sa akin na kasama sa asosasyon na iyon na hindi naman nila alam iyong sulat na iyon,” Duque said. 

“Hindi rin naman sa akin dapat naka-address iyon kasi iyong reimbursement galing sa PhilHealth, management action and decision iyon ng PhilHealth, hindi ng chairman of the board [ng Philhealth],” Duque said who currently sits as the ex-officio chair of the PhilHeath board.

“Policy formulation ang sa akin [as Health Chief],” he added.

Duque chairs the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases which plans and creates policies on the government’s anti-COVID-19 response. The IATF consists of at least 36 government agencies.

Meanwhile, researchers from University of the Philippines – Diliman revealed that over 7,000 COVID-19 positive cases by at least 36 testing laboratories in the country are pending for disclosure by the Department of Health. (RJ Espartinez)