DOH: Sacking Duque a 'disadvantage' despite 'a lot of gaps' in virus fight

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 05 2020 11:10 AM | Updated as of Aug 05 2020 04:20 PM

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III join the meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members presided by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang on Aug. 2, 2020. King Rodriguez, Presidential Photo

MANILA - The Philippines will be at a "disadvantage" if it sacks Health Secretary Francisco Duque as sought by several senators, his agency said Wednesday, even as it admitted "a lot of gaps" in efforts to curb the coronavirus pandemic. 

Under Duque, the DOH accredited 98 laboratories that can run nearly 30,000 coronavirus tests daily and had built thousands of quarantine facilities for patients, said Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire. 

"I think it will really be to the disadvantage of our government and of course the country if we are going to change leadership in the middle of this pandemic," Vergeire told ANC. 

"The Secretary has been working so hard since the start. He has been able to guide the whole Department of Health in this response… Even though there has been a lot of gaps, we all know that it is not just the Secretary but also this not just really DOH’s fight, it is the fight of the whole country, it is the fight of the whole government," she added. 

Several senators recently called anew for Duque's resignation after COVID-19 cases surged past 100,000 this weekend and prompted the return of Metro Manila and 4 surrounding provinces under stricter lockdown measures

"We should all try to move forward, we should all try to help each other, we should all try to do our responsibility in curbing this pandemic," said Vergeire. 

"We support the Secretary. His leadership has brought us here where we are right now. We have done a lot already for this response. No government is ever prepared for this kind of pandemic," she added.