Ombudsman probes Duque, DOH execs for alleged irregularities and anomalies’ in COVID-19 response

 Health Secretary Francisco Duque III 
Ombudsman Samuel Martires has ordered an investigation on Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and other Department of Health (DOH) officials and employees into supposed "irregularities and anomalies" on the agency's response to the COVID-19 crisis.

Ombudsman Martires’ directive came after the evaluation on the gathered initial reports and upon the recommendation of Assistant Ombudsmen Caesar Asuncion, Joselito Fangon, and Jose Balmeo Jr. to look into the purchase of 100,000 test kits by the DOH and on news reports about the use of invented test kits from the University of the Philippines.

"I directed the creation of two more investigating teams who will jointly investigate alleged irregularities and anomalies committed by DOH officials and employees, including Health Sec. Francisco Duque, in relation to the response of the DOH during this pandemic," he said.

Ombudsman Samuel Martires

Ombudsman ordered the creation of two investigating teams to look into the Delayed procurement of [Personal] Protective Equipment and other medial gears for healthcare workers; Alleged lapses and irregularities that led to death of health workers and rising deaths and infections among medical frontliners; Inaction in the release and processing of compensation for healthcare workers who were severely ill with COVID-19 and who died; Confusing and delayed reporting of COVID-19 deaths and confirmed cases.

Martires said the Ombudsman’s Field Investigation Office started its investigation prior to the March 15 lockdown, but its investigators were given a runaround by some DoH officials and personnel by referring us from one department or office to another.

Martires also said the joint investigation team is also authorized to file the necessary criminal and administrative cases against the subjects of the probe, as well as against any official or employee who refuses to comply with the legal process, and those who mislead the investigation of his team.

 Health Secretary Francisco Duque III 

He also warned that similar cases may also be filed against any official or employee who will willfully obstruct or hinder the conduct of the investigation or who will willfully mislead or attempts to mislead the Office of the Ombudsman.

President Rodrigo Duterte was angry to DOH about  the delayed release of the financial compensation to healthcare workers who died due to COVID-19, and those were severely ill with the disease as held in the Bayanihan law.

Duque initially blamed his staff for the slow release of compensation, but later admitted that he is ultimately responsible for the department's performance.

Source:  Inquirer

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