No end in sight in pandemic under Duque-led DOH – fishers’ group

Manila, Philippines — The militant fishers’ group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) adds its voice to the growing clamor of health workers and other sectors for the resignation of health secretary Francisco Duque III over billions of unspent and misused funds from last year.

A sum of P67.3 billion was flagged by the Commission on Audit (COA) as unused and misused by the Department of Health (DOH) supposedly for health workers’ risk allowance and hazard pay.

In a statement, PAMALAKAYA said “it is the height of criminal negligence and irresponsibility” demonstrated by the DOH in the face of a public health crisis where such huge funds are highly crucial to address the needs of frontline health workers for additional allowances and hazard pay.

“There is not a word that can describe the DOH’s budget mismanagement but pure evil, incompetence, and criminal negligence. The unspent billions reek grand scale corruption of the government’s lead agency on pandemic response under Secretary Duque,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson said in a statement.

PAMALAKAYA said that it is only justified for the health workers and medical frontliners to call for Mr. Duque’s resignation over his consistent failure to effectively handle the pandemic response.

“The budget fiasco is in the midst of the country’s very low capacity in genome sequencing, unimproved testing and contact tracing, slow-paced inoculation program, insufficient cash aid, and overwhelmed hospitals and medical facilities. Furthermore, fishing communities suffer the most in this government neglect as they have limited to no access to health services and economic subsidy,” Hicap added.

“There is no end in sight in this pandemic under the leadership of incompetent and corrupt health officials like Mr. Duque. We demand him to tender his resignation anytime starting today and put an end to the suffering and hardships of the frontline health workers and the Filipinos once and for all,” ended Hicap. ###

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