De Lima scores Duterte for letting Sinas, Duque, Roque ‘off the hook’: 'Pag mahirap kulong, pag hepe, sorry lang'

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Opposition Senator Leila De Lima condemned President Rodrigo Duterte for tolerating incompetent and irresponsible government officials amid the COVID-19 crisis.

In her recent dispatch, De Lima said these unbecoming public officials include National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) Director Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque and Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III.

"The COVID-19 pandemic, as it stands, is already proving to be a handful for even the most competent of governments around the globe. However, here in the Philippines, it is invariably worsened by man-made disasters of incompetency and lack of integrity that the very President of this nation not only tolerates, but even worse, grants impunity to," De Lima said in a statement.

"Imagine, the President in the middle of a crisis, not even lifting a finger while already being confronted with solid evidence of ineptitude and lack of regard for public accountability," she added.

The detained senator recalled that NCRPO chief Sinas was not fired despite his mañanita fiasco which she described as a clear violation of the prohibition on mass gatherings.

"Maj. Gen. Sinas managed to come up with every excuse for the 'mañanita' thrown for him by his subordinates earlier this month. In an egregious display of double standards in law enforcement, he then led the filing of a complaint against the so-called 'Marikina 10' because they gathered in the streets to carry out a soup kitchen drive in Marikina for displaced jeepney drivers," she said.

"Pag mahirap, kulong, pag hepe 'sorry' lang at OK na dahil malakas ka sa Pangulo? Paano magpapasakop sa batas ang ating mga kababayan kapag nakikita natin na may taong kagaya niya na walang delicadeza at patuloy na inaalagaan ni Duterte kahit lantaran ang paglabag sa batas?" she asked.

De Lima also mentioned the "recklessness and arrogance" of Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque who reprimanded a Palace reporter during a live briefing.

“Sec. Roque [p]ublicly berated CNN Philippines reporter Triciah Tejada for supposedly misreporting his statement that it is ‘up to the private sector to carry out mass testing...’ Reports from all major news organizations belie Roque’s allegations. In spite of his well-documented error, this abrasive and arrogant Presidential mouthpiece refuses to apologize to the reporter,” she said.

The lady senator also mentioned Health Secretary Francisco Duque III among her roster of failing government officials.

"Sec. Duque, the top health official in our country, continues to hold his position despite his countless blunders. Simula pa lang ng quarantine natin, hiniling na po ng Senado ang resignation niya dahil sa pagkabigo niya na ihanda ang ating bansa sa pandemic na ito. Subalit sa kabila nito, pinanatili pa rin siya ni Duterte sa DOH,” she said.

Being a known human rights and social justice champion, De Lima said Sinas, Roque and Duque are now devoid of moral standing to stay in government.

"Mr. Duterte’s insistence in keeping the lawbreakers, the liars and the incompetent in their posts erodes not only our people’s adherence to the rule of law, but also our faith in government to lead us through this pandemic," she added.

However, President Rodrigo Duterte defended Duque's actions on Monday night amid overpricing allegations.

“I gave him (Duque) the instruction and I admit it in public now. Sabi ko sa kaniya, ‘Do everything you can. I do not care if it's expensive. Go, just go ahead and do something about it kasi ipitan tayo dito,’” Duterte said in a televised briefing.

“Eto ngayon wala pang bakuna, so gusto ko lang malaman ng sambayanang Pilipino na I take full responsibility na utos ko na ‘Dalian mo, wala akong pakialam kung sa’n ka magkuha, magnakaw ka… whether you steal, borrow, or kill a person to get what needs to be done,’” the chief executive said.

"The COVID-19 pandemic for governments is, above all, a test of leadership and governance. Our failure in containing COVID-19 at the cost of our country's worst economic downturn in recent history is a direct consequence of ineptitude in the highest office in our land and the people in whom he reposed his trust," she added.

Meanwhile, Senate President Vicente Sotto III was being sked for comment on Duterte's defense of the DOH chief, he said: "I have no idea on what's in the President's mind. All I know is that he is President and the buck stops with him."

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