Vocalist Paolo Benjamin Guico of the Filipino folk-pop band Ben&Ben renewed his call for Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to resign on the day of President Rodrigo Duterte‘s fifth State of the Nation Address.
The vocalist tweeted that the top health official should give up his post for the sake of Filipinos, particularly “for the sake of our tired health workers.”
“Five months of incompetence is enough. Again, numbers do not lie,” Guico wrote on Monday morning.
“Leaders must be held accountable for their actions. #SONA2020,” he added in the thread.
Guico’s initial post has since gained 14,900 retweets and 50,600 likes on the microblogging platform as of this writing.
Filipinos supported Guico’s call and agreed that Duque should be held accountable for his department’s “incompetence” which they commented was as early as “January.”
“Incompetence is also at hand when he pronounces that we’re in the 2nd wave of the outbreak. And also the first time he lied to us that when he stated last January 2020, ‘outbreak is under control and that PH is a country model,'” a Twitter user said.
Duque in February had stated that the Philippines was a model country in terms of responding to the COVID-19 outbreak after the World Health Organization praised the government for repatriating Filipinos from Wuhan, China.
Days after the report, the country confirmed its first local transmission of the virus, which was also the fifth case in terms of the total count.
Meanwhile, some Filipinos lauded Guico for his call and shared similar sentiments.
“I totally agree with you. Duque must go. Period,” a Twitter user wrote.
“LOUDERRRRR KUYAAAAA PAAAAOOOOO,” wrote a fan.
“Numbers do not lie. Please Secretary Duque, it’s about time,” pleaded another online user with crying emojis.
The Philippines has breached the eightieth thousand mark of total COVID-19 cases last Sunday.
Experts from the University of the Philippines previously predicted that the number of infections might reach more than 85,000 by the end of July.
But based on how more than 2,000 cases have been reported by the Department of Health recently, they said that the country might end up reaching 90,000 infections by the end of July and 140,000 by the end of August.
As of Monday, July 27, the country recorded a total of 82,040 cases with 53,649 of which registered as active cases.
Guico asked Duque to resign last June after the latter blamed his subordinates on national television for the delay of the mandated cash assistance for infected and deceased medical frontliners due to COVID-19.
Speaking in a televised meeting of Duterte with core members of the Inter-Agency Task Force, Duque said that he felt bad about the mishap and described his subordinates as being “pa-wardy wardy.”
That time, the DOH was under fire for delaying the cash assistance to affected frontliners as mandated in the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act signed in March.
The agency only released a joint administrative order about the frontliners’ compensation in June.
Duque laid the blame on DOH’s employees but eventually acknowledged his responsibility about the issue through social media.
When he tweeted his remarks, some Filipinos called the health chief out and urged him to resign from his position following the incident.
This included Guico himself, who said that “Filipinos deserve a competent leader who REALLY prioritizes the health and safety of the country,” especially during a pandemic.
It was not the first time that the top health official was urged to leave his position.
Last April, 14 senators—including administration allies—sought for his resignation due to his “lack of competence, efficiency, and foresight bordering on negligence” in terms of handling the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
By June and July, the resignation calls grew more frequent on social media as critics denounce his department’s response amid the continuous rise of cases, as well as Duque’s remarks on supposedly flattening the curve.
DOH has been under fire for supposedly procuring overpriced medical supplies, falsely claiming that the country has “low” COVID-19 cases compared to other countries and failing to contact trace all of the passengers of the first two cases.
The health agency was also accused of prioritizing various public officials in the COVID-19 testing, as well as failing to secure sufficient personal protective equipment suits for workers in the first months of the pandemic.
Some Filipinos also observed that DOH appeared to be delayed in acknowledging crucial information about the viral disease which greatly affects the response efforts of the government.