Duque Says to Resign Once P67 Billion COA Issue is Fixed

Health chief says the President is informed about it.
Photo/s: Presidential Photo

After previously refusing to heed calls for him to resign, Health Sec. Francisco Duque III on Saturday said he would step down from his post once his department has settled all the deficiencies raised by state auditors on its use of P67 billion COVID-19 funds.

Duque said he has had informed President Rodrigo Duterte about his intention to quit his post.

"Sabi ko I'm stepping down dahil ito na nga, pero bigyan lang ako ng konting panahon para maayos namin ng DOH ang lahat ng COA observations and findings," he told dzBB in an interview.

President Rodrigo Duterte late Tuesday night said he would accept Duque's resignation if made voluntarily, after defending him for weeks over the findings of the Commission on Audit.

The commission said the deficiencies in the use of COVID-19 funds "contributed to the challenges encountered and missed opportunities by the DOH during the time of state of calamity/national emergency."

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Asked if his impending resignation would affect the government's ongoing efforts to respond to the pandemic, Duque said it wouldn't matter to him anymore as long as the COA findings are addressed.

"Yun ang tingin ko na mahalaga sa ngayon dahil tuloy-tuloy naman na yung pagbabakuna, yung supply na lang ang inaantabayanan natin. So tignan nalang natin, basta ako yun ang aking direksyon," he said.

The embattled health secretary said he would rather let the public judge his leadership at the DOH.

"Pero yung judgment na yan unfortunately hindi pwedeng dumating yan ngayon. Matagal pang lalabas ang judgment na yan, kapag halimbawa naayos na natin ang herd immunity, naayos natin ang vaccination ng mamamayan, at maging common cold na lang ang COVID-19," he said.

"Edi ibig sabihin malaki ang papel na aking ginampanan diyan at ng DOH," he added.

Duque also served as health secretary from 2005 to 2009, during the Arroyo administration. He also headed the Civil Service Commission from 2010 to 2015 and the Government Service Insurance System.

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