Losing battle vs COVID-19 warrants 'soul searching' from Duque — Binay
File photo shows Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.
The STAR/Boy Santos
Losing battle vs COVID-19 warrants 'soul searching' from Duque — Binay
(Philstar.com) - August 4, 2020 - 3:43pm

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Nancy Binay on Tuesday urged Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to do some "soul searching" into whether he is capable of leading the government's health response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Binay is one among 14 senators who have been calling for Duque's resignation.

Sen. Ping Lacson on Monday aired his frustration over President Rodrigo Duterte's refusal to fire the embattled health secretary, saying he "couldn't understand what 'amulet' or magic potion Duque has as far as the president is concerned."

"For me, I share the same sentiment with Sen. Ping Lacson that it can be very frustrating because we can see that Secretary Duque really cannot handle the COVID crisis," Binay told ANC in a mix of English and Filipino.

She added that the initiative to vacate the top health post might have to come from Duque himself.

"[At] the end of the day, it is the call of the president whether to let go of Secretary Duque but maybe it is high time for the secretary to do some soul searching if he really can't do the job."

Duterte on Sunday night once again threw his support behind Duque and defended him from critics, saying in a mix of English and FIlipino: "What was his sin? he did not import COVID."

Binay responded: "I think another question is this: How will the resignation of Secretary Duque help improve things if not solve many of the problems?"

Duterte defends Duque, drags medical frontliners

Duterte on Sunday night ceded a tightening of quarantine measures in Metro Manila to medical frontliners who pleaded for relief as COVID-19 infections in the country continued to set record-highs four days in a row.

In addition to defending his health secretary, the president, during a televised address to the public, berated medical frontliners for "demeaning" the government and inciting a "revolution."

"When it comes to his castigation of our healthworkers, I hope we don't view them as enemies. And I think that's where Secretary Duque comes in because he has the ear of the president. If he was able to explain it properly, maybe the president wouldn't get that impression that the healthworkers are staging a revolution," Binay said partially in Filipino.

She further expressed her agreement with medical frontliners who said the country is losing its battle against COVID-19.

The Philippine College of Physicians on Monday issued a clarification in response to the president's rants but also said that it was "taken aback and surprised" at some of Duterte's comments about the medical workers who issued the call for an enhanced community quarantine.

Dr. Mario Panaligan, PCP president, clarified: "If you closely review the virtual conference on August 1, there was never a call for a revolt nor was there any threat of leaving patients on their own since our oath instructs us to 'first do no harm' to anyone who needs our help."

RELATED: Doctors sorry if Duterte took their suggestions as 'call for a revolt' 

The Philippines is currently under the longest community quarantine in the world but continues to log an alarming surge in COVID-19 cases.

The Department of Health on Monday placed the national caseload at 106,330 and fatalities at 2,104. — Bella Perez-Rubio

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