Duterte’s advice to Duque: Don’t be too touchy on issues

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President Rodrigo Roa Duterte holds a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Malacañan Palace on March 9, 2020. ROBINSON NIÑAL JR./PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

Health secretary Francisco Duque III has been embroiled in criticism and calls for resignation as the COVID-19 situation in the country continues to worsen. However, President Rodrigo Duterte gave the health chief some words of advice during an Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases meeting aired online late Monday night.

Huwag ka masyadong touchy sa mga issues [Don’t be too touchy on issues], because always there will be pros and cons,” the President told Duque,

Pakinggan nalang natin [Let’s just listen to them] because this is a democracy,” he added.

Earlier that day, the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines, Inc. wrote a recommendation letter to Duterte, urging him to replace Duque on account of delays in the release of the interim reimbursement mechanism, which stands as financial aid to hospitals hit by the COVID-19 crisis.

Several senators also signed a resolution in April seeking Duque’s resignation for “failure of leadership, negligence, lack of foresight, and inefficiency” in the efforts against the coronavirus pandemic.

Despite this, Duterte showed no intention to let the Health secretary go.

Alam ko ikaw, you are hard-pressed [I know you are hard-pressed]. I know your situation,” Duterte told Duque. “You just tell us if that is the one that’s in your…the gray matter between your ears, e ‘di sabihin mo, ‘Ayaw ninyong maniwala, e ‘di bahala kayo, basta ito yung akin [just tell them, ‘If you don’t want to believe me, then that’s up to you.’]”

Duque has also received backlash for previously claiming that the country is already experiencing the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. He later retracted and clarified his statement claiming that the country is still in the “first major wave of sustained community transmission.”

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