Lacson relentless vs Duque, bares another contract with DOH
MANILA, Philippines—Sen. Panfilo Lacson continued to unveil documents purportedly showing conflict-of-interest on the part of Health Secretary Francisco Duque, the latest being a contract for supply between a company once owned by the secretary’s brother and a government health facility, National Center for Mental Health (NCMH).
At a Senate hearing on Thursday (Sept. 5), Lacson said Doctors Pharmaceuticals Inc. (DPI), then owned by Duque’s brother Cesar, got a supply contract for NCMH, which is being run by the Department of Health (DOH).
Cesar had testified at the Senate blue ribbon committee that the Duque family already had agreed to cease transacting with the government while Duque is head of the DOH. Duque confirmed this.
Lacson raised this at the hearing on Thursday then said: “Well, I’m going to show you the latest notice of award in favor of Doctors Pharmaceuticals.”
“This notice of award is dated 3 December 2018, you were already secretary of health,” Lacson said, referring to a government document that informs a company of getting a government contract and addressing himself to Duque.
Lacson said a check with the PhilGEPS (Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System) showed that one of DPI’s contracts with the NCMH came while Duque was already a member of President Rodrigo Duterte’s Cabinet.
PhilGEPS is an online portal where all government contracts are required to be posted.
Lacson, citing further the PhilGEPS, said the date which DPI got a notice to proceed was Jan. 28, 2019 while the contract effectivity date was the same day.
“Its end user is NCMH and NCMH is under DOH,” Lacson said.
“So it means that your brother violated your instruction?” Lacson asked Duque.
Duque maintained that he has divested himself of his stake in DPI, but Lacson expressed disbelief, saying it doesn’t look good for a company owned by the health secretary’s relatives has transactions with the public health sector.
Duque said he agreed, saying that he will talk to his brother about it.
The secretary said “I’ll take this under advisement and tell my brother straight to his face that why did the DPI supply NCMH.”
“Truth to tell, I’m not aware about any of this,” Duque told Lacson straight to the senator’s face.
Lacson said he was giving Duque “the benefit of the doubt” that the secretary was not aware of the transactions but “this should not be an excuse because you’re still secretary of health.”
Lacson had accused Duque of involvement in corruption cases under former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo which Duque said had all been dismissed in court.
The senator, however, refused to let the issue die down, digging up further to show Duque was not as spotless as the secretary claims to be.
Lacson had revealed that an office of PhilHealth has been renting a building owned by the Duque family in Pangasinan province.
Graft and plunder complaints had been filed against Duque at the Office of the Ombudsman as the secretary continued to deny involvement in irregularities./TSB
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