Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Duterte defends health chief over missing Covid-19 funds



Duterte defends health chief over missing Covid-19 funds

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Philippine health secretary Francisco Duque III. PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER

Duterte defends health chief over missing Covid-19 funds

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte “will not accept it” if health secretary Francisco Duque III offers his resignation over the “deficiencies” in the Department of Health’s (DoH) management of 67.3 billion pesos ($1.3 billion) worth of funds for its Covid-19 response.

“I know that you already want to resign,” Duterte said in Filipino, addressing Duque during his weekly taped briefing that aired late in the night off August 16 and lasted until early August 17.

“But you also know that I will refuse you. In the past, you have attempted to resign twice. I expect you to say something after this. You will resign. I will tell you: ‘No.’ You did nothing wrong. Why should you resign?” Duterte added.

Duterte assured the public that he would not let anyone, including his Cabinet members, steal from government coffers.

“I myself, the president, I myself promise that I will protect you people – and it includes your money,” he said. “Do you think I will allow one of the Cabinet members to steal even 1,000 pesos? You really think I would allow it?”

Duterte pointed out that department heads usually get blamed for the fault of low-level employees.

“‘The papers that are incomplete at the lower level, the problem is it is attributed to the head of the department. He’s not able to look at all the papers every day,” he added.

Duterte seemingly cleared the DoH of corruption linked to the deficiencies flagged by the Commission on Audit (CoA) in the department’s use of funds, specifically by its noncompliance with pertinent laws and regulations, resulting in missed opportunities for the department in its Covid-19 pandemic response.

Instead, he chastised the CoA for publishing its findings, which he said tended to be taken by the public as “gospel truth” and be misinterpreted as corruption.

“Stop that flagging, goddamn it! Do not publish it because it will condemn the agency or person that you are flagging,” he said. “You keep on flagging and yet nobody gets jailed, nobody at all. When you flag, there is already a taint of corruption by perception.”

The CoA earlier issued a clarificatory statement, saying: “The report itself does not mention any findings by the auditors of funds lost to corruption.”

CoA added that the report also had recommendations for the DoH to address the findings – part of the audit process to allow the concerned agency to rectify any shortcomings.

PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

MOST VIEWED

  • Hong Kong firm done buying Coke Cambodia

    Swire Coca-Cola Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed Swire Pacific Ltd, on November 25 announced that it had completed the acquisition of The Coca-Cola Co’s bottling business in Cambodia, as part of its ambitions to expand into the Southeast Asian market. Swire Coca-Cola affirmed

  • Cambodia's Bokator now officially in World Heritage List

    UNESCO has officially inscribed Cambodia’s “Kun Lbokator”, commonly known as Bokator, on the World Heritage List, according to Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Phoeurng Sackona in her brief report to Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of November 29. Her report, which was

  • NagaWorld union leader arrested at airport after Australia trip

    Chhim Sithar, head of the Labour Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees at NagaWorld integrated casino resort, was arrested on November 26 at Phnom Penh International Airport and placed in pre-trial detention after returning from a 12-day trip to Australia. Phnom Penh Municipal Court Investigating Judge

  • Sub-Decree approves $30M for mine clearance

    The Cambodian government established the ‘Mine-Free Cambodia 2025 Foundation’, and released an initial budget of $30 million. Based on the progress of the foundation in 2023, 2024 and 2025, more funds will be added from the national budget and other sources. In a sub-decree signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen

  • Two senior GDP officials defect to CPP

    Two senior officials of the Grassroots Democratic Party (GDP) have asked to join the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), after apparently failing to forge a political alliance in the run-up to the 2023 general election. Yang Saing Koma, chairman of the GDP board, and Lek Sothear,

  • 11th Chaktomuk Short Film Festival draws to close

    Cambodia's 11th Chaktomuk Short Film Festival wrapped up successfully on November 28 after a four-day run, with the film “Voice of the Night” awarded top prize for 2022. Sum Sithen, the organiser of the short film festival, told The Post that the number of attendees to the