Bong Go committee to probe Duque conflict-of-interest if ‘proven sufficiently’
MANILA, Philippines—The Senate committee on health, now chaired by President Rodrigo Duterte’s once most trusted aide, would be open to an investigation of conflict-of-interest allegations against Health Secretary Francisco Duque III if such allegations were “proven sufficiently.”
Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go, health committee chair, said his committee, if needed, would investigate allegations that a company owned by Duque’s family had been awarded contracts worth millions of pesos at the Department of Health (DOH) which Duque now heads.
“If there’s conflict of interest, I will investigate it,” said Go in an interview.
“If it will be proven sufficiently that there is really conflict of interest in his work as secretary, if it needs to be investigated, it would be investigated,” said Go, who maintains a very close relationship with Duterte following his departure from the Cabinet as special assistant to the President to enter the Senate race.
The Inquirer, quoting Sen. Panfilo Lacson, had reported a possible case of conflict-of-interest involving Duque after Doctors Pharmaceuticals Inc. (DPI), a company owned and run by Duque’s family, was able to bag several contracts at the DOH worth millions of pesos.
Lacson said two supply contracts bagged by DPI was valid until October 2017 when Duque became health secretary for a second time.
Duque said he had already divested himself of shares or interests in DPI before the family-owned company transacted with the DOH.
He said in an interview with ANC that his appointment for a second time as health secretary came on Oct. 26, 2017 but he officially became health secretary after taking an oath only on Nov. 6, 2017.
According to Duque, he had divested himself of shares or interests in DPI since 2006. “So I had nothing to do with all these contracts since 2006,” he said. He said he divested from the company precisely to avoid a conflict-of-interest case.
Lacson had promised to deliver a privileged speech on his accusations against Duque during Senate plenary session on Monday (July 29)./TSB