Palace denies using Duque as a “scapegoat”

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Malacañang on Wednesday denied allegations that President Rodrigo Duterte is using Health Secretary Francisco Duque III as a scapegoat for government’s lapses in its COVID-19 response efforts.

This claim was made by the detained Senator Leila de Lima as she pointed out how the health secretary is still in his post despite countless errors because the president needs a “whipping boy” to put all the blame on.

“I read the same papers and I watch the same news as Senator Leila de Lima, I can tell you the President has not been treating Secretary Duque as a whipping boy,” Roque said in an interview over CNN Philippines as a response to the accusation.

Roque, however, admitted that many have been asking him why the President has not considered blaming Duque for the health-related issues hounding the country.

“The question I’m asked more often is ‘why not?’ But it has never been the case that I think the President has ever used him as a whipping boy,” he said.

Roque reaffirms Duterte’s trust on Duque’s capability to lead the health department.

“He’s’ (Duterte) always been supportive of Secretary Duque. He says mistakes have been made. For as long as his mistakes were done in good faith, it’s no reason for him to lose confidence,” he said.

In a handwritten note issued from the Philippine National Police Custodial Center where she is detained on drug-related charges, de Lima claimed that the President is letting Duque act as “captain of the sinking ship.”

De Lima’s statement is just one of the many calls for Duque to leave his post due to his alleged mishandling of the health department’s response to the pandemic.

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