Duque must go for mismanagement of COVID-19 response, senator says

Duque must go for mismanagement of COVID-19 response, senator says
Health Sec. Francisco Duque III is seen making the rounds in Parañaque City as the country continued to see a surge in COVID-19 cases
News5 / JC Cosico

MANILA, Philippines — The administration should let Health Secretary Francisco Duque III go amid a surge in COVID-19 cases that has seen the highest single-day increase since the pandemic began, a senator said Sunday.

An ongoing surge that has shown no signs of slowing down has pushed the Philippines' overall count to 656,056 as of Saturday.

Sen. Francis Pangilinan said over radio dzBB that the Duterte government's continued backing of Duque amid previous calls for him to resign has led to apparent consequences. 

"Sa akin, sana magkaroon ng kaliwanagan ang Malacañang at aminin na kinakailangan na maghanap ng iba gaya ng ginawa naman nila sa PhilHealth," he said, referring to the leadership shakeup that the President ordered in the state health insurer amid corruption allegations.

(We hope Malacañang will be enlightened and finally admit that there is a need to look for someone else like what they did with PhilHealth.)

A majority of senators called for Duque's resignation in April 2020 over the health department's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, saying the health secretary had shown "poor planning, delayed response, lack of transparency and misguided and flip-flopping policies" in addressing the crisis.

The health chief, however, has managed to stay on, with President Rodrigo Duterte repeatedly rejecting calls and declaring support for Duque. Social media users also criticized Duque on Friday for going around Parañaque to give out face shields and implement physical distancing with a meter stick, saying he should be focused on other things.

FROM INTERAKSYON‘Hanggang stick na lang?’ Renewed criticisms vs Duque’s use of meter stick amid COVID-19 cases surge

Pangilinan scored how contact tracing remains a problem more than a year since the pandemic hit, saying even the World Health Organization remarked that only four out of 17 cities in Metro Manila have effective tracing measures.

"Ang solusyon base na rin sa karanasan ng ibang bansa [ay] hindi na misteryo," he said. "Kung hindi mo kino-contact trace 'yung na-expose, kakalat at hindi mai-isolate."

(The solution based from other countries' experience is no longer a mystery. If you don't contact trace those who were exposed, it will spread and you won't be able to isolate.)

On Saturday, Sens. Risa Hontiveros and Nancy Binay sought as well for a better pandemic response from the administration amid the surge in cases, saying that with the numbers now, it is obvious that "we are failing."

Health workers are also bewailing the impact of the increase with hospitals already reaching critical level.

"Hindi dapat kinukunsinte ang palpak kasi uulit-ulitin 'yan," Pangilinan said. "Sana magising na ang mga namumuno at hanapan na ng solusyon ang makupad na management ng COVID."

(Neglect should never be tolerated because it will keep on happening. We hope that our leaders finally wake up and find a solution to the slow management of the pandemic.) — Christian Deiparine

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