President Rodrigo Duterte reviews a document presented by Health Secretary Francisco Duque III during a meeting with members of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases at Matina Enclaves in Davao City on June 4, 2020. JOEY DALUMPINES/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO


Health Secretary Francisco Duque III told President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday 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.

“Nakakahiya talaga sir e namatayan na nga tapos nagpa-wardy wardy ‘yung mga tao ko na parang walang sense of urgency, sir. Iyon ang talagang ang sama-sama po ng loob ko, Mr. President,” Duque said during the president’s meeting with top Cabinet officials in Davao City, broadcast over state television Friday morning.

Duque said the Department of Health (DOH) would meet the June 9 deadline set by Duterte on June 4, adding that he had ordered his staff to not go home and finish the distribution during the weekend.

The health chief also said the families of the 32 health workers who had died due to Covid-19 were already identified.

Duque later acknowledged on Twitter his responsibility as secretary in his department’s poor performance.

‘Form a new team’

Duterte told Duque to form a new team within 24 hours that would focus on the immediate delivery of the assistance to health workers, as the health chief expressed disappointment over his staff’s performance.

“Ayaw nilang magtrabaho. You know, p***** i** dalawang buwan itong lecheng ito,” Duterte said.

“Can you just imagine, two months? Tapos ang secretary ang binubugbog araw-araw kasi wala siyang nagawa. Sino palang pagawain ni Duque nito? Ang bureau of ano? Sino pagawain niya? Pagawain niya ‘yung Department of Health, hindi ‘yung Bureau of Fire,” he added.

Under the Bayanihan emergency powers act, the government must give P100,000 in financial aid to health workers who contract Covid-19 in the line of duty and P1 million to the families of those who die due to the disease.

Duterte said he would not let go of people who made an “honest mistake.”

“I am sure, I said, it is not your fault and I am not ready to let go of people na alam ko nagta-trabaho talaga even if they commit mistakes,” he told Duque.

“As long as it is an honest mistake, sabihin, ‘hindi namin na-foresee ‘yan’ or if you — walang problema sa akin ‘yan. I can live with it.” John Ezekiel J. Hirro