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Ang daming pagpipilian! There are 170K potential replacements for Duque, Ping says

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If President Rodrigo Duterte is indeed looking for a replacement for Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, there are more than 170,000 “candidates,” Sen. Panfilo Lacson said Monday.

Lacson said there are more than 170,000 licensed physicians who he said “may be more honest and competent” than the current secretary.

“The President is reportedly scouting for a new DOH secretary. One reporter asked if I have somebody in mind, I told her there are many among the 170,000 licensed physicians in the country who may be more honest and competent,” he said on his Twitter account.

Earlier Monday, a report in The Philippine Star said Duterte is looking for a new Department of Health secretary following numerous blunders by Duque.

Last week, Lacson exposed a pattern of overpricing at the DOH involving the acquisition of medical equipment to fight the COVID-19 threat.

These incidents have worried Duterte, who has given instructions to have DOH procurement of supplies monitored.

Lacson also noted even personnel from the Inter-Agency Task Force of Emerging Infectious Diseases had noted irregularities in the DOH, including an insistence on manual PCR extraction, which involves more “consumables.”

On the other hand, Lacson said Duque, during Senate hearings last week, tried at least twice to lay the blame on other agencies when told to explain his department’s overpricing of medical equipment to fight the COVID threat – but both attempts backfired.

He said Duque tried to explain that the DOH’s purchase of a P4-million King Fisher nucleic acid extractor – when the private sector acquired a Sansure-branded extractor for P1.75 million – by claiming it was the Department of Budget and Management’s Procurement Service that bought the machine.

But DBM PS OIC Lloyd Christopher Lao said the Procurement Service relied on the DOH’s agency procurement request.

Duque then tried to link the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine to the acquisition. “(Pero) ang RITM under naman sa kanya,” Lacson noted.

“Ang bottom line dito bakit nag-aaksaya tayo ng pera ng gobyerno? Kung makakabili ka ng mura bakit pinipilit mo bumili ng mahal, e gahol na gahol na sa gastusin ng gobyerno?” Lacson said.

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