Malacañang said Tuesday President Rodrigo Duterte is “very close” to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III’s brother, but that “closeness” will not affect the ongoing investigation against the top health official.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque told CNN Philippines that Duterte continues to trust Duque because of the President’s “closeness” and “deep friendship” with his brother Gonzalo “Gonz” Duque.
He said Duque’s family is well off, and that it is believed he will not steal from the government.
The beleaguered Duque is being probed by the Office of the Ombudsman due to his allegedly poor handling of the COVID-19 crisis.
“I think Ombudsman [Samuel] Martires will proceed with the probe regardless of what the President has said,” Roque said.
He pointed this out despite admitting Duterte himself appointed Martires as a Supreme Court justice and as Ombudsman in 2017. Martires is also the President’s fellow alumni at the San Ben College of Law.
“The Ombudsman is an independent body. It’s headed by a seasoned litigator and former trial court judge and Supreme Court justice,” Roque said.
“The President knows the Ombudsman is independent and is infinitely qualified to proceed with investigations such as this.”
Roque said Duterte believes in the integrity of his Health secretary because “he doesn’t see anything that has been criminally committed” by Duque himself.
“He has said that people make mistakes, and for as long as these are honest mistakes he’s willing to go beyond these mistakes.”
Duque also said Duterte’s repeated expression of trust and confidence in Duque will not affect the Ombudsman’s probe.