The Department of Health (DOH) secretary is regarded as an authority on matters concerning health issues affecting the country especially during this time of a pandemic.
In less than 24 hours after DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III revealed that the Philippines is “actually on the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic”, the Palace and its allies refuted the secretary’s claim. Spox Harry Roque said that the Philippines is still in the first wave of the outbreak. Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea negated Duque saying that it was not the pronouncement of President Rodrigo Duterte and that the country is not yet on the second wave of the outbreak. Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año also negated Duque’s statement and said in an interview that the Inter-Agency Task Force will deliberate to verify the statement of the health secretary on the second wave of the outbreak.
It can be recalled that Duque’s pronouncement echoed the statement of Dr. John Wong, an epidemiologist, saying that the first wave occurred in January when three Chinese tourists from Wuhan tested positive from COVID-19. The first wave according to him had its peak at the end of March.
Meanwhile, the senators called out Duque for his alarming statement. They urge the goverment to have Duque’s statement clarified for according to Senator Joel Villaueva, the premature claim caused panic among the people. Senator Miguel Zubiri, on the other hand, said that the admission on the part of the secretary mirrors incompetence on the part of the department and its personel for having failed to control the first wave.
The DOH on Thursday, May 21, 2020, apologized for the confusion created by the “second wave pronouncement”. Beverly Ho, special assistant to the secretary, confirmed in an online briefing that the country is still on the first wave of the outbreak and expressed apologies on behalf of the department.