Duque distances himself from PhilHealth office issue
MANILA, Philippines — Health Secretary Francisco Duque III assured on Wednesday that he has nothing to do with the leasing of a family-owned building to one of the regional offices of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).
Senator Panfilo Lacson earlier revealed that the office of PhilHealth Region 1 was renting a building owned by Duque but under the name of the Educational and Medical Development Corporation.
Duque, who also serves as the ex-officio chairperson of PhilHealth, explained that he has nothing to do with the signing of the contract of the lease of the PhilHealth office.
The building belongs to the family-owned university, Lyceum Northwestern University, in Tapuac district in Dagupan City.
“Dahil nasa DOH (Department of Health) na ako, hindi ako nakikialam doon sa university sa Dagupan, hindi ko na alam kung ano na ginagawa ng PhilHealth, kung naghahanap pa ba sila ng building o ng lote,” Duque told INQUIRER.net in a phone interview.
(Because I am already with the DOH, I am no longer involved in running the university in Dagupan. I do not know what PhilHealth is doing or if they are looking for a building or a lot.)
The health chief admitted that he became the president and chief executive officer of the family-owned corporation in 2015. However, he pointed out that PhilHealth has been renting the space since 2012.
He also admitted to signing the renewal of the contract of lease for PhilHealth at the time. But when was appointed Health Secretary in 2017, Duque said he immediately tendered his resignation from the corporation.
When PhilHealth requested for a renewal, Duque said it was his sister, Luz Duque-Hammershaimb, who signed the contract of lease.
The health chief said they cannot terminate the contract if PhilHealth hasn’t found a new place.
“Humingi na naman sila ng renewal and this time it was my sister already who was the president in 2017 (They asked or renewal, so it was my sister who is already the president in 2017),” he added.
Duque said his sister did not consult him on the renewal of the PhilHealth’s contract of lease though he was the chairman of the organization because PhilHealth requested it.
Should Lacson pursue the issue, Duque said it is within the senator’s right to file a case against him.
“Wala namang problema. I’m willing to answer basta kung magfa-file sila ng complaint against, we’ll file our counter-affidavit, sasagutin ko lang,” he said.
(There is no problem with that. I’m willing to answer the charges if they file a complaint. We’ll file a counter-affidavit. I’ll answer that.)
He said he is also willing to attend a Senate inquiry if the senator calls for one and summons him to a hearing. (Editor: Eden Estopace)
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