Lacson: Officials stealing health funds deserve ‘super special suite in hell’
MANILA, Philippines — “Corrupt public officials have no place on earth. But corrupt officials stealing health funds deserve an upgraded and super special suite in hell.”
This was the parting shot of Senator Panfilo Lacson, who exposed in a privilege speech at the Senate on Monday, another case of an alleged conflict of interest in government involving Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque.
Lacson said Doctors Pharmaceuticals Inc. (DPI), owned by the family of Duque, bagged two contracts from DOH – both lasted while Duque was already at the helm of the health agency.
The first contract, he said, was for the procurement of Clozaphine worth P3.4 million, which was awarded to DPI on July 24, 2017. The contract took effect on September 13, 2017, and expired on November 13, 2017.
The second contract, meanwhile, was awarded on December 8, 2016, and ended on December 31, 2017, according to the senator.
“Take note that Sec. Duque was appointed DOH Secretary in October of 2017,” Lacson said.
As a former chairman of the Civil Service Commission, the senator said Duque “should know by heart” the code of conduct and ethical standards for public officials.”
“Is it not incumbent upon Secretary Duque to exercise professionalism and ethical standards by stopping all dealings of his family’s corporation with the very government agency that he heads?” Lacson asked.
Citing data from the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System (PhilGEPS), Lacson also revealed that DPI has been accredited to bid for government contracts, primarily with DOH, since 2005.
It was the same year Duque was appointed DOH Secretary during the time of then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Lacson pointed out.
“Ask a moron if there is something wrong with this situation, and surely, that moron will give you the correct answer, Mr. President,” he said.
This was not the first time the senator has accused Duque of conflict of interest.
Last month, Lacson disclosed that the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) had entered into a lease agreement with the Duque family-owned Educational and Medical Development Corp. (EMDC).
He said that documents would show that PhilHealth’s Region 1 office had rented a building owned by EMDC in Dagupan City from June 2012 to December 2018.
Duque also headed the Philhealth before he became Health Secretary in 2005 and in 2017.
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