Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has criticized President Rodrigo Duterte for tolerating public officials who are demonstrably incompetent and irresponsible in their discharge of duties amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In her Dispatch from Crame No. 802, De Lima said these officials include National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) Director Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque and Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III.
“The COVID-19 pandemic, as it stands, is already proving to be a handful for even the most competent of governments around the globe. However, here in the Philippines, it is invariably worsened by man-made disasters of incompetency and lack of integrity that the very President of this nation not only tolerates, but even worse, grants impunity to,” she said.
“Imagine, the President in the middle of a crisis, not even lifting a finger while already being confronted with solid evidence of ineptitude and lack of regard for public accountability,” she added.
It may be recalled that Sinas was heavily criticized after photos of his recent 55th birthday party, which violated the directive prohibiting mass gatherings, made the rounds online, yet Duterte refused to fire him.
“Maj. Gen. Sinas managed to come up with every excuse for the ‘mañanita’ thrown for him by his subordinates earlier this month. In an egregious display of double standards in law enforcement, he then led the filing of a complaint against the so-called ‘Marikina 10’ because they gathered in the streets to carry out a soup kitchen drive in Marikina for displaced jeepney drivers,” she said.
“Pag mahirap, kulong, pag hepe ‘sorry’ lang at OK na dahil malakas ka sa Pangulo? Paano magpapasakop sa batas ang ating mga kababayan kapag nakikita natin na may taong kagaya niya na walang delicadeza at patuloy na inaalagaan ni Duterte kahit lantaran ang paglabag sa batas?” she asked.
Roque, for his part, has displayed recklessness and arrogance.
“Sec. Roque [p]ublicly berated CNN Philippines reporter Triciah Tejada for supposedly misreporting his statement that it is ‘up to the private sector to carry out mass testing…’ Reports from all major news organizations belies Roque’s allegations. In spite of his well-documented error, this abrasive and arrogant Presidential mouthpiece refuses to apologize to the reporter,” she recalled.
On the other hand, Duque has shown ostensible signs of ineptitude in the discharge of his critical job.
“Sec. Duque, the top health official in our country, continues to hold his position despite his countless blunders. Simula pa lang ng quarantine natin, hiniling na po ng Senado ang resignation niya dahil sa pagkabigo niya na ihanda ang ating bansa sa pandemic na ito. Subalit sa kabila nito, pinanatili pa rin siya ni Duterte sa DOH,” she added.
De Lima, a known human rights and social justice champion, said Sinas, Roque and Duque are now devoid of moral standing to stay in government.
“Mr. Duterte’s insistence in keeping the lawbreakers, the liars and the incompetent in their posts erodes not only our people’s adherence to the rule of law, but also our faith in government to lead us through this pandemic,” she said.
“The COVID-19 pandemic for governments is, above all, a test of leadership and governance. Our failure in containing COVID-19 at the cost of our country’s worst economic downturn in recent history is a direct consequence of ineptitude in the highest office in our land and the people in whom he reposed his trust,” she added.