Duterte hails Duque as ‘hero’
/ TPM / SUNSTAR PHILIPPINES EDITOR: CASSANDRA C. POCULAN / email@example.com
WHILE others heaped criticisms on Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III, President Rodrigo Duterte hailed him as the “hero” behind the government’s pandemic response. “Compared with other countries, which is not really the time to do comparisons, but we are doing good in the fight against Covid and Secretary Duque is the hero here,” Duterte said in a televised public briefing Monday evening, May 3, 2021. Duterte made the remark as Duque presented a situation report on the Covid-19 epidemic in the country. He noted that majority of those infected have recovered. As of May 3, the country had 69,466 active cases. There were 7,255 additional cases, of which 2,402 came from the National Capital Region (NCR), 1,419 from Calabarzon, 839 from Central Luzon and 2,595 from the rest of the regions. Duque said the daily average cases fell to 8,227 over the past week from 8,782 reported from April 19 to April 25. Under fire Duque has been under fire since 2020 over several issues including his alleged failure to comply with documentary requirements for the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines from US pharmaceutical firm Pfizer. He was also criticized over the alleged anomalies at the Philippine Health Insurance Corp., which prompted lawmakers to call for his resignation. Senate President Vicente Sotto III, for his part, said the medical frontliners remain the heroes in the fight against Covid-19. For Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, the government’s pandemic response has been a team effort. “Just to be fair, there were several heroes who effectively contributed to the government’s response to Covid. These are Secretary (Carlito) Galvez, Secretary (Vince) Dizon and all the medical frontliners,” he said. Galvez is the chief implementer of the National Task Force Against Covid-19 while Dizon is a deputy chief implementer. Opposition Sen. Francis Pangilinan, however, said Duterte is the only one who believes that Duque is a “hero” and the government’s response is excellent.