Though a lot of people have lost confidence in the Department of Health’s (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III, specifically in his handling of the pandemic in the country, President Rodrigo Duterte begs to differ – praising his health secretary as the ‘hero’ behind the government’s ‘good’ coronavirus response. 

The president aired the remarks last night (May 3) in a televised address while speaking to Duque, who was reporting about the decline in cases of COVID-19 in the Philippines after a significant surge that started early in March. 

However, the president’s sentiments did not align with members of the Upper House. 

Senate President Vicente Sotto III said ‘frontliners are the heroes’ in the Philippines’ fight against the health crisis. 

“That’s his opinion, to me, the frontliners are the heroes!” He said in a text message to the press.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian echoed the same opinion, pointing out that the pandemic response can’t be attributed to one person alone. 

According to Gatchalian, Secretary Carlito Galvez, the chief implementer of the National Task Force Against COVID-19, and Secretary Vince Dizon, who serves as NTF’s deputy chief implementer, also deserve to be recognized for their efforts in addressing the health crisis in the country. 

“Just to be fair, there were several heroes who effectively contributed to the government’s response to Covid – these are Sec. Galvez, Sec. Dizon and all the medical frontliners,” he said. 

“This is a team effort. No one man can arrest a pandemic of this magnitude,” Gatchalian stressed.

Meanwhile, Senator Kiko Pangilinan was not one to beat around the bush with his words. Pangilinan said the administration is the only one that believes that the country’s response to the pandemic has been ‘good’ and that Duque was a ‘hero.’

“Yung pagiging ‘excellent’ at pagiging ‘hero ni Duque dahil sa good COVID response,’ palagay ko sila sila na lang ang naniniwala dun,” he said.

Likewise, Senator Panfilo Lacson did not hold back in airing his discontent about the national government’s pandemic response. 

“He said that the Philippines is doing good in the fight against COVID-19 and called his health secretary a ‘hero.’ What he really meant was ‘hilo,’” Lacson wrote on Twitter

President Duterte, on multiple occasions, has defended Duque from critics requesting his resignation – regarding the country’s ‘poor’ response to the pandemic. 

In September last year, Duterte also backed his secretary after being entangled in the alleged irregularities in the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation’s (PhilHealth) budget.

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Image credit: Dante Diosina Jr via Getty Images