Duque open for Senate inquiry on public service record
MANILA, Philippines — Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III on Thursday said that he welcomes a Senate investigation that will look into his track record of public service.
Duque, in a statement, added that he will “let the ax fall” if there is any proof of his involvement found in issues surrounding the widespread corruption within the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).
“I welcome the Senate inquiry as a way of clearing my name. My public service record is an open book,” Duque said.
“If there is a single thread of conclusive evidence of my involvement on any and all issues, then let the ax fall,” he added.
Duque also said that he was “pained” to be tagged as the supposed “godfather” of the so-called mafia within the state health insurer.
The DOH secretary even tagged the whistleblower, ex-PhilHealth anti-fraud officer Thorrsson Montes Keith, as a “very polluted source.”
“It hurts my family to be dragged in all sorts of innuendoes just because I have been a former PhilHealth President, Chairman, Board Member and now, again its Chairman,” he said.
“Accountability and transparency have been my guidepost in all my years in the public sector and I have tried to reform the institution. Even under the pandemic, we try our level best to get things done,” he added.
It was on Tuesday that the Senate Committee of the Whole released its report on its investigation regarding PhilHealth, where it recommended the filing of graft charges against several regional vice presidents who Senator Richard Gordon tagged as the real members of the mafia.
But Duque said that the whole institution of PhilHealth is composed of “decent and competent public servants.”
“The rotten eggs are not the be-all of the institution,” Duque said.
The Health Secretary also suggested to Congress that a fixed term for the PhilHealth president-chief executive officer (PCEO) be returned as “reforms are long term.”
It was on Wednesday that Ricardo Morales filed his resignation as PhilHealth president after President Rodrigo Duterte said that it was best for Morales to leave due to his “on-and-off health situation.”
Morales is currently battling cancer.
“I also recommend that a study be made on limiting the inclusion of Department Secretaries to ex-officio positions and the like,” he added.
“Following the advice of senators, in yesterday’s PhilHealth Regular Board Meeting, I am seeking for more active participation of the Secretaries of other member agencies of the Board of Directors.”
Aside from Duque, the other ex-officio members of the PhilHealth’s Board of Directors include Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Bautista, Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello III, Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III.
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