“Tekel: You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.” (Daniel 5: 27 NIV)
The National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) denounces the Department of Health (DOH) under the leadership of Secretary Francisco Duque III for the deficiencies in the use of a P67.323-billion fund by for pandemic response as reported by the Commission on Audit (COA). We laud the effort of the COA for their findings and for bringing it out in the open. To say that the Health Secretary is inept and incompetent is an understatement. The COA said that such deficiencies had undermined the timely and efficient response for the COVID-19 pandemic which many of our people continue to suffer from.
This is the nth time that Sec. Duque has shown his ham-fisted approach to this truly life and death situation. It could be recalled that last year, he made light of the threat of COVID-19 and said that the Philippines, being a middle-income country, was not among the ‘poor countries with weaker health systems.’ It is on record that during the early part of the pandemic, he refused to call for a closure of the country’s borders even when various sectors were imploring on him to do so. He was also accused by a fellow Cabinet member of bungling a deal with a pharmaceutical company for vaccines last year. Then there was also the separate audit report on P95.15 million worth of expired and near expired or unused medicines and medical supplies and the issue of the stolen 15 Billion funds of Philhealth of which he is the chairperson.
Imagine if that P67.323-billion had been used judiciously and efficiently, it would have saved so many lives and have already put up a credible and strong response against the Covid-19 pandemic. Such wastage of resources shows the utter failure and disrespect of the Duterte administration to uphold our right to health. It has mobilized and subsidized the various resources for thousands of state security forces to impose the various lockdowns since this pandemic started, but the things that truly matter, like proper compensation for our medical frontliners, testing, contact tracing, genome sequencing and other badly needed scientific approaches are severely lacking. The National Capital Region and other urban centers in the country are again in lockdown mode yet assistance to the people is mired in bureaucratic red tape. Our hospitals are slowly getting overwhelmed again as we record an average of 12,000 Covid-19 cases daily.
Yet, despite Secretary Duque’s mismanagement and incompetence, President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly refused to fire him. Instead, President Duterte went as far as telling the public to ignore the COA report.
It is a sin when a government continues to withhold from people the much-needed help and support especially in this time of a global health crisis. The growing clamor for the resignation of Sec. Duque is just and called for. Much like some news reports about various vaccines against the Delta variant, Sec. Duque has also lost efficacy to handle this pandemic. Sec. Duque has been weighed and found wanting, he should heed the call for resignation. The Filipino people deserve better.
August 17, 2021
REV. FELIPE B. EHICAN, JR.
RT. REV. JOEL O. PORLARES
DRA. GAY B. MANODON
MS. CATHERINE KAY F. ALMARIO
BISHOP REUEL NORMAN O. MARIGZA