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‘I am doing my best,’ Duque assures senators, but Drilon notes PH ‘faring worse’ than ASEAN neighbors

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Tuesday assured senators he is doing his best to lead the government’s efforts against the COVID-19 pandemic, saying any lapses he committed were not deliberate.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III (MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Responding to Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon’s questioning at the resumption of the Senate hearing on the corruption issues plaguing PhilHealth, Duque said he is taking full responsibility of his decisions and actions.

“There was never a time that I never tried my best. But if my best is not enough, I just have to do some more reflection and soul-searching. And I will be the first to let everyone know what we need to learn,” Duque said during the hearing.

At least 14 senators have called on Duque to immediately resign for his failure to address the COVID-19 pandemic. However, President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly defended him from critics.

“If there have been some lapses in terms of our initial response, those were not deliberate. They were a product of honest assessment of all the data and the facts that were coming in,” the health secretary added.

Drilon, however, refuted this, saying that other neighbors in Asia have succeeded well against the COVID-19 while the Philippines is still enforcing lockdowns in its attempt to contain the disease.

Compared to the Philippines, he also said the number of COVID-19-related deaths in other Asian countries are minimal or can be “counted by one hand.”

Had the Philippines enforced a travel ban from mainland China at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic like other neighboring countries did, Drilon said the Philippines could have fared better in dealing with the crisis.

“That only indicates, that if you exercised your professional judgment correctly, we could never have gotten in this situation today,” Drilon said.

Source: Manila Bulletin (

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