Wednesday, May 27, 2020

NAGKAISA! labor coalition joins call for Duque’s resignation

The function of the Secretary of Health’s (SOH) is to carry out the primary mandate of the Department of Health (DOH) which is the promotion, protection, preservation or restoration of the health of the people through the provision and delivery of health services.

Confronting the current state of Covid-19 pandemic is undoubtedly the biggest test on the competence and integrity of a sitting SOH. Under Francisco Duque III, however, the DOH has become the epitome of incompetence, corruption controversies, and downright negligence as far as workers’ health interest is concerned.

As SOH in this time of pandemic, Duque’s main responsibility should have been the enhancement of our mass testing capacity nationwide and reinforcing the department’s chronic ‘lack of personnel’ problem by hiring more health workers and frontliners. On these two accounts alone, Duque has miserably failed.
Instead of building up these capacities, he willingly succumbed to the pressure of allowing rapid antibody test for the sake of businesses. And instead of mass hiring, has opted to inviting volunteer doctors, nurses and health assistants with meager allowances rather than making them permanent civil servants in the health department.

As health commander he should have stood against the ‘pure business’ position of other departments like the DOLE, DTI, NEDA and DOF which summoned workers back to work without mandatory PCR-based mass testing. It must be considered a crime for the SOH to allow millions of people to go back to work without the needed clinical examinations and PPEs in fighting the virus.

For these reasons we come to the position that it is time for Duque to go and be replaced by the most competent and credible person in the health profession.

But in calling for Duque’s resignation, we want to convey the same massage to heads of other agencies, particularly DOLE and DTI, that their levels of negligence, incompetence and class bias can be worse than the SOH, and that there will be another time in asking for your heads.

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