SENATORS on Thursday filed a resolution urging the country’s Health chief to quit for alleged negligence, lack of foresight and inefficiency in handling the country’s coronavirus disease crisis.

Fifteen senators led by Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III said Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III’s leadership failure had led to “poor planning, delayed response, lack of transparency, and misguided and flip-flopping policies.”

These policies have “endangered and continue to endanger the lives of our health care professionals, other frontliners and the Filipino people,” according to the resolution signed by lawmakers mostly allied with President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

Aside from Mr. Sotto, Senators Ralph G. Recto, Juan Miguel F. Zubiri, Juan Edgardo M. Angara, Ma. Lourdes Nancy S. Binay, Grace S. Poe-Llamanzares, Emmanuel Joel J. Villanueva, Francis N. Tolentino, Imee R. Marcos, Emmanuel D. Pacquiao, Sherwin T. Gatchalian, Panfilo M. Lacson, Ronald M. dela Rosa, Ramon B. Revilla, Jr. and Manuel M. Lapid also signed the resolution.

“Secretary Duque failed to put in place the necessary precautionary measures to lessen, if not at all prevent, the impact of this health crisis,” according to the senators.

Mr. Duque’s actions showed “lack of competence, efficiency and foresight bordering on negligence in handling the health crisis,” they added.

“The Senate’s call for my resignation is their opinion,” Mr. Duque told congressmen at a virtual hearing yesterday. He said he would continue to lead government efforts in “putting forward a very effective response against COVID-19.”

Mr. Duterte rejected the call for his Health chief’s resignation. The President “appreciates” the Senate but Mr. Duque will remain Health secretary, Executive Secretary Salvador C. Medialdea said in a mobile-phone message.

“The President has made a decision for Health Secretary Duque to stay put,” he said. “Secretary Duque was made aware of the sentiments of the senators and the President expects him to work even harder to set aside any doubts on his capacity and sincerity to serve the public during these difficult times,” he added.

The senators cited Mr. Duque’s initial opposition to ban flights to and from China and the Health department’s slow contact tracing involving the first reported cases in the country, involving two Chinese tourists from China’s Wuhan City, where the coronavirus disease 2019 was first detected.

“Secretary Duque failed to alert the medical community and fundamentally, the public, that there were already patients admitted in health facilities exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms,” according to the resolution.

The senators berated Mr. Duque for reprimanding health institutions and officials who had spoken about the current state of their facilities and health workers during the health crisis.

“Secretary Duque even denounced the Cardinal Santos Medical Center for making a public disclosure that they initially admitted the first reported case of local transmission of COVID-19,” they said.

They also criticized the Health chief for issuing a gag order on the National Center for Mental Health chief after she told journalists that 34 staff members had tested positive for COVID-19 due to the lack of personal protective equipment.

The lawmakers also cited the agency’s failure to provide personal protective equipment to health workers and acquire testing kits for the general public.

They also denounced Mr. Duque’s April 9 statement saying the Philippines had relatively low infection cases compared with other countries. “In truth, however, we are lagging behind other nations in terms of testing capacity.”

Mr. Angara in a separate statement asked the government to step up efforts to contain the pandemic.

“Whether he is removed or not, the status quo cannot continue if we want to defeat the virus,” he said. “The leadership should be more active against the virus.”

“We were late for testing, contact tracing is almost nonexistent, hospitals are short of protective gear; we need to be better,” Mr. Angara said.

“Every Cabinet member serves at the pleasure of the President,” presidential spokesman Harry L. Roque, Jr. told a news briefing. “Until they are removed, the President continues to have full trust and confidence in them.” — Charmaine A. Tadalan and Genshen L. Espedido