Farmers’ group hits appointment of plunder suspect to head PCA
LUCENA CITY –– The farmers’ group Kilusan Para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo at Katarungang Panlipunan (Katarungan), questioned the appointment of Gonzalo Duque, who is facing plunder charges, as the primary overseer of the multi-billion peso coconut levy fund.
“How can we welcome an appointee who is facing a plunder charge? It is difficult to fathom President Duterte’s appointment of Gonzalo Duque to manage the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA),” Jansept Geronimo, spokesperson of Katarungan, said in a statement.
Katarungan made the statement in reaction to Gonzalo’s appointment as PCA chief who took his oath of office on Monday.
Gonzalo and his brother, Francisco Duque III, the besieged secretary of the Department of Health (DOH), are both facing plunder and graft cases at the Office of the Ombudsman over a lease contract between Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) and the Duques’ family-owned corporation.
The siblings were accused of profiting from PhilHealth’s lease of a building in Dagupan City owned by Educational and Medical Development Corp., a firm where the Duques supposedly still have shares.
PhilHealth rents the building, which serves as its office for the Ilocos region, for P529,261 a month.
Geronimo feared that if Gonzalos’ appointment would be confirmed, “he will be heading an agency that is supposed to manage the more than P100-billion coconut levy fund if current bills on coconut levy utilization are to be passed.” /lzb
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