What happened to 2019 PACC probe on Duque?
MANILA, Philippines—President Rodrigo Duterte’s own anti-graft investigating body in 2019 has recommended the dismissal of Health Secretary Francisco Duque in connection with leasing a family-owned building to one of the regional offices of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).
In June 2019, Senator Panfilo Lacson revealed that the PhilHealth office in Pangasinan is renting out a building that Duque owns.
That same year, the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) conducted its own investigation. On October 18, 2019, it came up with a memorandum through the Executive Secretary for the President.
Based on the memorandum, the Educational and Medical Development Corporation (EMDC) has entered into a lease contract with PhilHealth for the office space and mini-warehouse with parking slots. The contract for 7.5 years costs the government a total of P40.8-million.
Duque was part of the board of trustees of EMDC. He took a leave after he was appointed Health Secretary. But the PACC’s memorandum said P14.2-million of the total lease costs covers the period where Duque is the incumbent Health Secretary and ex-officio chairperson of PhilHealth Board.
The PACC recommended that President Duterte issue an “appropriate order declaring respondent [Duque] as having committed violations of RA 6713 (Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees) and Section 3(e) RA 3019 (the provision on giving undue interest under the Anti-Graft Law) with its administrative liability of grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.”
The agency recommended dismissal from service. PACC has also forwarded its findings to the Office of the Ombudsman for appropriate action.
Duque has denied the allegations saying that since he assumed as head of the Department of Health (DOH), he is no longer involved in running the university in Dagupan and he does not know what PhilHealth is doing or if it is looking for a lot.
PACC Chairman Greco Belgica said they are set to file cases against at least three officials “related” to the DOH. He said Duque is aware and has been cooperating with their investigation.
Journey of the PACC memorandum
PACC memorandum showed a QR code from Malacañang’s Records Office and a handwritten date of 11-5-19 (November 5, 2019).
On Nov. 7, 2019, it was received by the Office of the Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs (ODESLA).
On Dec. 4, 2019, a letter was released to the Office of the Ombudsman.
Asked what happened to their recommendation to the President, Belgica, in an interview over DZBB said their authority has limits.
“We investigate and do our report. After we do our job, hindi na kami nakikialam. Trabaho namin tapos na. We just moved on to the next case and continue to do our work,” Belgica said.
(We investigate and do our report. After we do our job, we no longer interfere with what they should or should not do. Our work is finished. We just moved on to the next case and continue to do our work.)