After backlash, Duque takes responsibility for health workers' compensation mess

Under fire for again pointing fingers at his subordinates for the shortcomings of his department, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III acknowledged that the delayed compensation for virus-hit health workers was also his responsibility.

"While I expressed disappointment towards some members of my team, I acknowledge that this is still my responsibility as SOH. I will make sure that we comply with the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act, with proper documentation and identification of HCWs (health care workers)," Duque said in a tweet past noon on Friday, June 5.

He issued the statement hours after the broadcast of a prerecorded briefing, where he told President Rodrigo Duterte that he was "embarassed" by the "dilly-dallying" of the DOH team handling the compensation for health workers who got severely infected with and died of COVID-19.

When Duterte said he would sack the DOH staff who handled the compensation for the virus-hit health workers, Duque did not say anything in defense of his team, and even seemed to have added fuel to the fire when he joined the blame game.

"Kasi nakakahiya talaga, Sir, eh. Namatayan na nga, tapos nagpawardi-wardi mga tao ko na parang walang sense of urgency, Sir. 'Yun talaga, ang sama-sama ng loob ko, Mr President," Duque told Duterte.

(It's really embarassing, Sir. These families have lost their loved ones and yet my people dilly-dallied as if they had no sense of urgency. That's what makes me feel bad, Mr President.)

Duque's statement riled netizens who revived calls for him to resign – a message that dominated the thread of his later tweet where he shared responsibility for the delayed compensation.

It was not the first time for Duque to blame his subordinates. After a coronavirus hearing at the Senate in February, Duque deflected criticisms of a "failed leadership" at the DOH and blamed some operating units in the agency for gaps in its work identifying people who possibly came in contact with people positive for the coronavirus.

Under the Bayanihan Act, severely infected health workers should receive P100,000 each, while the families of those who died from the disease should get P1 million.

As of Thursday, the Philippines recorded 20,382 cases of coronavirus infections, with 984 deaths and 4,248 recoveries. –

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