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DOH Sec. Francisco Duque III gets backlash after error on RITM memo, VIP testing directives

Netizens blasted Francisco Duque III’s memo replacing RITM Director.

  • RITM Staff revealed VIP priotized testing.
  • Duque backtracks, says appointment paper replacing RITM Dir. was an error.

Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III experienced a backlash from netizens after a DOH appointment paper replacing RITM (Research Institute for Tropical Medicine) Director Celia Carlos made the rounds on social media.

According to a RITM insider, Carlos was replaced because she didn’t want to prioritize VIP testing anymore.

Over on Twitter, netizens were united in lashing out against Duque for mishandling the RITM testing protocols by giving priority to government officials and other VIPs which reportedly resulted in death in the case of young cardiologist Israel Bactol.

According to an RITM insider, Bactol’s test results were delayed by four days because government officials “ordered” the results of their respective tests to be ready within 24 hours. Dr. Bactol died on March 21.

More revelations were made by the anonymous RITM staff member who relayed the details to Kapuso news anchor Arnold Clavio.

As per the insider’s account, it was devastating to see government officials and VIPs crowding out ordinary patients who needed the results immediately.

What’s even more appalling is that not only are the politicians asking to be prioritized, but they’re having their whole family tested as well. The staff even mentioned former Jinggoy Estrada and his family who availed of the prioritized testing.

The staff added that DOH Sec. Duque has full knowledge of the scheme but still allowed giving priority to the government officials because more kits are expected to come in.

“Ang katwiran ni Duque marami naman daw kits na parating. Almost 80k. Pero ang sa amin, nasasayang lang yung opportunity cost na were testing for the PUIs instead na sa kanila. Buti sana kung isa lang sila, pero no-buong pamilya. Paano na yung taong in need na malaman yung resulta. Sobrang nakakasuka na talaga,” the RITM insider said

Duque backpedals, cites clerical error on the memo

Meanwhile, Health Sec. Duque denied the circulating news that the RITM director had been replaced.

In an interview with Duque on DZMM, the DOH secretary explained that the leaked appointment paper replacing Carlos by DOH Asec Santiago was an error on the part of his executive assistant.

“Hindi, nagkamali ‘yan. Inamin na ‘yan ng aking head executive assistant. Ang nailagay nila ‘yung designation na director. Ang sinabi ko magkaroon ng oversight lamang para makatulong kay director Celia Carlos sa pagpapalawig ng testing capacity,” he told radio DZMM.

“Kasi siyempre overwhelmed na rin ‘yung director ko na ‘yan who is technically competent. I have no doubt about her technical expertise. Ang kailangan lang niya ‘yung management ng expansion ng test labs natin. So pinasok ko si Asec Nestor Santiago,” he added.

On Monday, DOH also sent letter clarifying the appointment of Santiago as a mere overseer in RITM’s laboratory handling COVID-19 testing.

“Asec. Santiago shall guide and manage the expansion of testing capacity to public and private laboratories and attend to coordination with other agencies,” it said.

“The circulating issuance stating that Dir. Carlos has been replaced by Asec. Santiago is an erroneous draft of the document which was inadvertently posted but immediately taken down.”

However, no damage control can ease the fury of netizens. The majority of those who tweeted about the circulated memo slammed Duque with many even asking for his resignation or for his dismissal from his cabinet post.




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