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Ombudsman to issue subpoenas to Duque, DBM today

By Jeffrey Damicog 

Ombudsman Samuel Martires said that subpoenas will be issued to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) on Friday, June 19, demanding documents concerning irregularities in the Department of Health’s response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Office of the Ombudsman (MANILA BULLETIN)

Office of the Ombudsman (MANILA BULLETIN)

“Today, we will be issuing subpoenas to the Department of Budget and Management, to the Department of Health, particularly with respect to the special allotment request order to the budget na binigay ng Pangulo tungkol sa mga namatay na frontliner, doon sa budget na binigay sa COVID-19 (that President Duterte gave for frontliners and for COVID-19),” he said during an interview over CNN Philippines.

Martires said the subpoenas are addressed to Duque and Budget Secretary Wendell Avisado.

“I had an agreement with the assistant ombudsman who is in charge of this na bilisan namin ang imbestigasyon (to fast track the investigation),” said the Ombudsman. He said he hopes to finish the investigation within the year.

Martires urged the DOH to cooperate in the investigation.

“These things that we are going to ask the Department of Health can be done by a mere clerk, not even by a division chief, unless they like to sanitize the documents. That is why the head office or the one in charge must look into the documents before they release them to us,” Martires said.

The Ombudsman shrugged off the statement made by DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire that the Ombudsman’s investigation was a surprise and that it has caused low morale and will affect the department’s work concerning its response to the pandemic.

“Lahat ng iniimbistagahan namin ganoon ang rason, makakaabala sa kanilang ginagawa ang aming imbestigasyon (All those we are investigating have the same thing to say, that it bothers their work),” Martires said.

“On the issue of low morale that will affect the work of the employees, I would like to say that we are also suffering from low morale from the fact that we cannot even go out of our homes,” he pointed out.

Martires reminded the DOH that prior to the imposition of community quarantine, it has been notified by the Ombudsman of its investigation.

He said the Ombudsman initially investigated the DOH’s snub of the test kits invented by the University of the Philippines (UP) and the procurement of medical equipment and supplies.

“The first office that we called was the office of Undersecretary Vergeire,” recounted Martires who noted that investigators talked to her child who was serving as her executive assistant.

Martires expressed dismay at the runaround given to investigators as he recalled that Vergeire’s executive assistant referred investigators to the Research Institute of Tropical Medicine (RITM) which referred it back to the DOH.

“I think they have to change their staff because anything that happens in your office when you are not in your office must be communicated to you by your staff,” he said

“So hindi pwede sasabihin (they can’t say) we were caught by surprise,” Martires pointed out.


Source: Manila Bulletin (https://news.mb.com.ph/2020/06/19/ombudsman-to-issue-subpoenas-to-duque-dbm-today/)

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