By Anthony Pagapulaan


Amid the controversies the Department of Health (DOH) has been facing and taking into account the current report of the Commission on Audit (COA) over its "deficiency," President Rodrigo Duterte still sees no reason to fire DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III.

In a taped speech streamed on Saturday, the president stressed that he stands by Duque, setting aside a probable downturn in his ratings for his last year in service.

"I can go down but with my values and principles intact. Because it's a principle. Not even Duque, he’s not even a campaigner. He was not even there during the elections. There should be fairness," Duterte said in Filipino.

Furthermore, the president also asks critics who call for Duque's termination to give him enough reasons to do so, calling it a "great injustice" against the secretary.

"I feel sorry for him. They want, do you want me to fire Duque? You want me to fire him? Give me a reason why I should kick him out," he said in Filipino.

Duterte even persuades the public that the shortcomings of the present health chief are his fault, for he chooses Duque without the secretary applying for the position.

"You know why? I was the one who hired him and he is performing. If I fire Duque, lifetime, people will say, 'You know what, he was fired because there was corruption.

"He did not apply or beg [for the post]. He did not ask, 'Hire me.' I was the one who hired him so what is his fault? That is mine," the president addressed.

Duterte has always been defending the secretary even before when issues on the PhilHealth have surfaced, and junking urges to fire the secretary from his position over these concerns.

The health chief has also stirred social media for his viral emotional "winarak" statement during a legislative hearing.