Lacson: We simply need a competent DOH secretary as the Senate demands Duque's resignation amid COVID crisis

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Senator Panfilo Lacson announced this Thursday after majority of the senators, including himself, signed Senate Resolution 362 calling on Duque to step down amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis..

According to Lacson, the purpose of this resolution is because we urgently need for a competent Health Secretary to help the nation survive the COVID-19. 

The Department of Health (DOH) chief must step down "for his failure of leadership, negligence, lack of foresight, and inefficiency in the performance of his mandate," as the country continues to battle with the pandemic as mentioned in the resolution.

Aside from that, the DOH's alleged failures to stockpile on PCR-based test kits to make it available for more Filipinos; to provide adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) forhealthcare workers; and to expeditiously act in facilitating the accreditation of testing centers were also cited in the resolution.

Fourteen senators including those allies of President Rodrigo Duterte have all agreed to file a resolution asking for the immediate resignation of the current Health Secretary.

“We all agreed not to recommend any replacement. In case Sec. Duque quits, it is all up to the President being the appointing authority. We are simply for a competent Secretary of Health. Take note: not more competent, but simply a competent one at the helm,” Lacson said in a statement.

Duque's shortcomings resulted in poor planning, delayed response, lack of transparency and misguided and flip-flopping policies and measures in addressing the COVID-19 threat, according to the lawmakers who filed the resolution.

The senators said that the Health Department's lack of foresight showed Duque's supposed incompetence in handling the crisis.

“The issues raised by the senators against Secretary Duque as stated in Senate Resolution 362 have commonalities as they are glaring and have bearing on the country surviving COVID-19,” Lacson noted.

But Lacson also made it clear that President Rodrigo Duterte is not involve in crafting of this resolution.

“Having said that, the resolution does not involve the President. It is virtually an appeal – demand, if you will, to Sec. Duque to resign and the reasons are stated in the resolution. It is his call,” Lacson said.

Lacson explains furthermore that the Senate will not endorse any replacement for Duque should he resign.

Presidential Spokesperson, Harry Roque, said MalacaƱang has no position yet on the senators’ call. However, he said a Cabinet member serves at the pleasure of the President.

“Every Cabinet member serves at the pleasure of the President and habang hindi sila tinatanggal, the President continues to have full trust and confidence in them,” he said in a televised briefing. 

Senators who filed the resolution are the following: Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, Senators Sonny Angara, Nancy Binay, Sherwin Gatchalian, Grace Poe, Joel Villanueva, Francis Tolentino, Imee Marcos, Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa, Bong Revilla, Manny Pacquiao, Lito Lapid, and Panfilo Lacson signed the said resolution.

However, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto's name was also on the resolution but his signature was not affixed. Recto was also a co-author according to Senator Sotto.

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