Duterte: No corruption on Duque’s watch

By: Leila B. Salaverria - Philippine Daily Inquirer June 24,2020 - 10:05 AM

Health Secretary Francisco Duque

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has vouched for beleaguered Health Secretary Francisco Duque III amid an Ombudsman investigation of his handling of the coronavirus response, saying he would stake his reputation that there was no corruption in the Department of Health (DOH) on Duque’s watch.

In a televised address to the nation on Monday night, Mr. Duterte also defended the DOH’s supposed delayed purchase of personal protective equipment, arguing that Duque could not have been involved in corruption because he was already wealthy.

“He wouldn’t do that because Duque is already rich. He has a hospital, a school, everything including the most beautiful wives, he has them all. They are all beautiful—this is important,” Mr. Duterte said.

The President also said he believes in the honesty and integrity of people working for him, even as he acknowledged the ongoing probe of Ombudsman Samuel Martires on Duque and the DOH bureaucracy’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With due respect to the Ombudsman, the Honorable Martires, he is conducting an investigation but if you ask me, if he investigates me, I would go there and say that I believe in the honesty and integrity of my people,” he said.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said on Tuesday that the President’s statements were not meant to block the Ombudsman probe or absolve Duque.

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