Health Secretary Francisco Duque III is still enjoying the trust and confidence of President Rodrigo Duterte, Malacañang said in response to a report that the Chief Executive is looking for a replacement to the embattled health chief.
“We all serve at the pleasure of the President. Kung nawalan po ng tiwala ang Presidente, anytime, any Cabinet member can be removed,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque said in a televised press briefing on Monday.
“Habang di pa po natatanggal eh mayroon pa pong trust and confidence,” he added.
Roque’s statement came shortly after The Philippine Star reported that Duterte is eyeing to replace Duque, whose credibility has been repeatedly questioned by the Senate and the public on his response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Wala akong alam sa artikulo na ‘yan,” the spokesman said.
Duque drew flak last week following his statement that the Philippines was already in its second wave of COVID-19 crisis, indicating that the first wave was the case of the three Chinese nationals all from Wuhan City where the virus originated.
His statement was immediately denied by Malacañang, adding that the pronouncement was “just on the terminology on when is the big wave coming.”
Last month, Duterte rejected the calls for the resignation of Duque despite 14 senators signing a resolution seeking his removal.
Senate President Vicente ‘Tito’ Sotto III, Senate Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, and Senate Majority leader Juan Miguel Zubiri signed the resolution calling the immediate resignation for his failure of leadership, negligence, lack of foresight, and inefficiency in the performance of his mandate’ during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The resolution was also signed by senators Sonny Angara, Nancy Binay, Pia Cayetano, Grace Poe, Joel Villanueva, Francis Tolentino, Imee Marcos, Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, Bong Revilla, Lito Lapid, and Panfilo Lacson.