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Duque distances self from family-owned firms’ DOH supply contracts

/ 09:56 AM July 29, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Monday said he has divested from the family-owned pharmaceutical firm which secured contracts from the Department of Health (DOH) before he assumed his present post.

The Inquirer earlier reported that Doctors Pharmaceutical Inc. (DPI) cornered contracts to supply medicines to public hospitals.

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READ: Duque firm bagged DOH contracts 

Senator Panfilo Lacson told the Inquirer that two of the supply contracts awarded to DPI lasted until October 2017, around the same time when Duque was appointed DOH secretary by President Duterte.

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“[I was appointed] on October 26, 2017 but I swore in officially as Secretary of Health [on] November 6, 2017. So I wanna find out also the dates that are indicated in the [Inquirer report],” Duque said in an interview on ABS-CBN News Channel on Monday.

Duque reiterated that he divested from the DPI since 2006 or a year after he was first appointed as secretary in 2005 by then president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

“In the firm, I divested since 2006. So, I had nothing to do with all of these contracts since 2006…Ang iniisip namin, magkakaroon ng conflict of interest because I was a shareholder of the DPI,” he said.

He also noted that the DPI was established in the mid-1990s which meant that the firm has already been bidding for projects even prior to his appointment.

“It’s not as if it just started bidding during my time,” the health secretary said.

Asked if he may have been unaware when DPI bagged the said contracts as he was only officially sworn in as health secretary in November 2017, he said: “That’s a possibility.”

“That’s a possibility, but I have to verify that with the Doctors Pharmaceutical Inc. director.”

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“In fact during my time, pinahinto ko nga kasi nga sabi ko magkakaroon ng conflict of interest but in spite of the fact that I divested, I told my brother pwede ba, wag na kayo mga-bidding diyan,” he added, referring to his brothe, Cesar T. Duque, DPI chairman. /gsg

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