Senator Panfilo Lacson reminded President Rodrigo Duterte that the continuing rise in coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases in the country is due to the Health Secretary Francisco Duque III’s handling of the pandemic.

Lacson was reacting to the president’s continued defense of Duque’s handling of the pandemic.

While Lacson agrees with the president’s observation, the senator emphasized that Duque “miserably failed” to stop the spread of the virus.

“The [COVID-19] importers are the virus-infected couple from Wuhan, China who spread the virus in Manila because your Secretary Duque miserably failed to do a simple contact tracing,” the senator said in a tweet on Monday.

in a late Sunday night tweet, the pro-administration senator said that the health workers’ request to place Metro Manila back to an Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) is an indication the Health Department is not managing the pandemic “towards the right direction” stressing that “If nothing is wrong with the rudder, maybe the ship captain needs immediate replacement,” alluding to his persistent calls for Duque to be fired.

During his address to the nation past midnight Monday, Duterte stressed that Duque did not import Covid-19 to the Philippines.

“Secretary Duque, they want your neck. Then I said: ‘Okay, you want me to fire Duque?’ Let me be satisfied. What was his sin? He did not import COVID,” Duterte said, speaking partly in Filipino.

“He was there all the time and ang infection was overwhelming not only for the Philippines. I do not want to compare it with any country, but it was a global thing.”

Duterte reacted to continuing calls for Duque’s resignation for his repeated blunders and gaffes in managing the pandemic.

In April, several senators signed a resolution urging Duque to resign from his post.

A month later, Duque drew widespread criticisms for declaring, without any evidence, that the Philippines was already experiencing its second wave of Covid-19 infections.

He also recently found himself facing criticisms once again for claiming that the country had successfully flattened the pandemic curve even as the confirmed Covid-19 cases continued to rise.

He later retracted his earlier statement, saying the country’s Covid-19 curve was “bent” and not “flattened” since April.

READ: Duque claims PH ‘successfully flattened the curve since April’, retracts statement later

Duque also drew massive criticisms for quickly passing the blame to his subordinates for the blunders in his own department.

Duque told Duterte during a televised address that his subordinates’ lack of urgency was to blame for the delay in the distribution of financial aid to health workers had died of or contracted Covid-19.

He, later on, admitted that it is still his “responsibility” as Secretary of Health to ensure the timely distribution of aid to health workers.

READ:  ‘Nakakahiya,’ ‘walang sense of urgency’: Duque blames staff, keeps post

However, Duterte stressed that he still trusts Duque even telling the beleagured health secretary once during a meeting in Malacañang not to be too sensitive to criticisms.  (Rommel F. Lopez)