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Bilang na mga araw? Duterte snubs Duque at IATF meeting

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Has Health Secretary Francisco Duque III fallen out of President Rodrigo Duterte’s favor?

Speculation about Duque’s relationship with Duterte swirled after the President practically snubbed the Health Secretary during his meeting with members of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang Thursday (July 30).

Excerpts from the meeting was broadcast Friday (July 31) as Duterte announced the new quarantine classifications across Metro Manila, which will be in place until August 15.

Edith Regalado, Philippine Star’s correspondent who’s close to Duterte, hinted that Duque may soon be on his way out of the Cabinet, with the President’s cold shoulder treatment as a red flag.

“For the first time in your weekly meetings you were not allowed to talk. Not even a SINGLE word on COVID. IS IT THE END FOR YOU?” she said in a Facebook post.

In the comments’ section, Regalado said it was curious that Duterte never even asked Duque to speak.

“[N]akakapagtaka yan kasi usually first yan siya explain updates. Pero sa mtng kagabi. No updates from him. Di siya kinausap. Andun lang sya nakaupo,” she said.

Quoting a source in Malacañang, Special Envoy to China Ramon Tulfo said last month that Duterte is just waiting for Duque’s resignation letter.

In his June 30 column for the Manila Times, Tulfo said the appointment of Southern Philippines Medical Center chief Dr. Leopoldo Vega as Health Undersecretary is a “writing on the wall” for Duque, who has been criticized for lapses in the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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