Duque makes me ashamed to be a Thomasian

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WHILE ALUMNI of the UST Faculty of Medicine battle Covid-19 at the frontline, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, an alumnus, is giving his medical school a bad name by clinging to his post.

Five months into the pandemic and Duque has yet to produce a concrete plan to stem the continued rise of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) cases.

The Senate resolution co-authored by 14 senators on April 16, which called for Duque’s resignation, put it very well when it stated that his “failure of leadership, negligence, lack of foresight, and inefficiency in performance” led to “poor planning, delayed response, lack of transparency, and misguided and flip-flopping policies and measures.” If this is how he embodies UST’s core values of “commitment, competence, and compassion,” then any Thomasian would blush in shame.

Clamor for his resignation went louder after the Alliance of Health Workers and other government officials demanded his removal. While frontliners are risking their lives, Duque seems to be more worried about money—still focusing on budget cuts, delaying aid and equipment for health workers, and ignoring labor issues—rather than supporting our frontliners. It’s appalling that these problems were even present before the pandemic.

Duque thinks we are stupid not to notice his blunders and word play. His latest laughable remark was about the Philippines not being late in procuring personal protective equipment, because other countries simply acted earlier. Earlier, he falsely claimed the Philippines was entering a second wave of Covid-19 cases despite still being on the first one. And who could forget the time when he boasted that we were a “model country” in terms of pandemic response?

With these blunders, it seems that his default response is to throw his people under the bus. On June 5, he blamed his subordinates over the delayed payment of financial benefits to the family of healthcare workers who died in the line of duty.

In February, he was quick to blame airline agencies and some operating units of the Department of health (DOH) for the delay in contact-tracing of fellow passengers of the first few Covid-19 cases.

But his biggest sin is his DOH’s failure to do large-scale testing. In April, they promised to reach a daily testing rate of 8,000  but fell short at less than 5,000 tests per day. They then ambitiously targeted 30,000 daily tests by the end of May. They still fell short at a daily average of 9,500 tests.

Duque now joins Mocha Uson in the ranks of Thomasians who have put UST to shame.  It’s time he resigned.