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Officials losing Presidentâs trust can be removed
Sought for reaction, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said he does not know anything about the newspaper article.
STAR/Joven Cagande

Officials losing President’s trust can be removed

Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - May 26, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang was mum on a report that President Duterte is looking for a replacement for Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, but stressed that officials who have lost the President’s trust can be removed any time.

A report by The STAR published Monday quoted sources as saying that Duterte is planning to replace Duque, who has been criticized for reportedly mishandling the coronavirus pandemic crisis.

The President, a source claimed, is already “looking around” for somebody to replace the embattled health chief. A Cabinet member has expressed hope that Duterte “would not take long to give Duque the way out,” the report said.

Sought for reaction, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said he does not know anything about the newspaper article.

“I have repeatedly said... we all serve at the pleasure of the President. If the President loses trust on you, anytime, any Cabinet member can be removed,” Roque said at a press briefing.

He said an official still enjoys the President’s trust if he is still in his post.

Militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan has asked the President to appoint a new health chief, saying Duque is no longer capable of doing the job. The group cited Duque’s claim that the Philippines is already in the second wave of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) contagion, a view not shared by Palace officials and some health experts.

The health department is also grappling with allegations that it had bought overpriced medical supplies including personal protective equipment for pandemic frontliners.

Adding to the chorus of groups and individuals calling for Duque’s replacement were the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines Inc. (PHAPi) and Sen. Risa Hontiveros.

In an open letter to the President, IHAP said he should replace Duque with “someone who can deliver the goods better in addressing the health concerns of the country.”

IHAP, through its president Rustico Jimenez, also asked Duterte to remove Duque as chairman of Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).

Rody probes overpricing

Duterte last night looked into the alleged overpricing of medical supplies, equipment and testing packages in the fight against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Duterte called to a meeting at Malacanang members of the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases as well as Budget Undersecretary for Procurement Services Lloyd Lao, a key person in the procurement  of equipment and testing materials for the  COVID-19.

He said the government was reportedly set to lose over P8 billion due to the alleged overpricing anomaly, he said.

Duque was present during the meeting which mainly looked into the  supposed overpricing in the cost of Philippine Health Insurance Corp.’s (Philhealth) COVID testing package.

Sen. Bong Go, for his part, said “we should not allow corruption and abusive business practices to take advantage of the vulnerabilities of fellow Filipinos.”  Cecille Suerte Felipe, Sheila Crisostomo, Edith Regalado

HARRY ROQUE
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