Duque not a ‘hero,’ should be blamed for ‘failed’ pandemic response — Drilon

Health Secretary Francisco Duque and Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon

Health Secretary Francisco Duque and Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon

MANILA, Philippines — Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Wednesday scoffed at the pronouncement of President Duterte that Health Secretary Francisco Duque III is the “hero” behind the government’s “good COVID-19 response.”

“The proof of the pudding is in the eating,” said Drilon in an interview by ABS-CBN News Channel when asked for his reaction to Duterte’s vote of confidence for Duque, who concurrently sits as chairperson of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).


Drilon said the government’s management of the COVID-19 pandemic failed, and that Duque should be blamed for it.

He cited Duque’s failure to immediately recommend the closure of borders with China when the pandemic first broke on January 30 last year, when the first recorded case — a 38-year old woman from Wuhan, China —entered the country.

“Now we have 17,000 deaths and over a million cases, and that was because of that first error,” he said.

Drilon also recalled Locsin’s earlier remark that the Philippines was supposed to get 10 million doses of vaccine from the United States-based pharmaceutical Pfizer, but “somebody dropped the ball.”

Senator Panfilo Lacson later disclosed that it was Duque who failed to submit a confidentiality agreement that bungled the vaccine deal with Pfizer.

RELATED STORY: Duque: ‘No such thing as dropping the ball’ on Pfizer vaccine acquisition

Drilon also mentioned the government’s failure to provide advance payments for vaccines making the country “at the end of the queue, insofar as the availability of COVID-19 [vaccine] is concerned.”

“The president said he (Duque) is a hero, and I am laying out on the table the facts that we have seen, among others: we have had no tracking system that can effectively track those who are infected, our testing system is very deficient and very expensive,” he further said.


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