Duque clarifies claim on pandemic funds

Duque clarifies claim on pandemic funds

Duque clarifies claim on pandemic funds

Former Health Secretary Francisco Duque III. —Inquirer file photo

MANILA, Philippines — Former Health Secretary Francisco Duque III has backtracked on his earlier statement that former President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the transfer of P47.6 billion in pandemic funds to the procurement arm of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for the purchase of pandemic supplies.

Clarifying his pronouncements during a hearing conducted by the House committee on appropriations on Monday, Duque said he was “regrettably taken out of context.”


“From the very beginning of the unprecedented public health emergency wrought by the COVID-19 virus, [President] Duterte [was] consistent and open in directing his administration,” he said in a statement sent to Inquirer.


READ: Duterte ordered transfer of P47.6 billion COVID funds to PS-DBM – Duque

The health chief at the height of the COVID-19 health crisis said the former President’s directive “was consistent with and pursuant” to the policies stipulated in the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act 1 and 2, and other pertinent laws.

Duque insisted that tapping the services of the Procurement Service of DBM (PS-DBM) to buy COVID-19 supplies, including face masks, face shields and personal protective equipment, was “not only necessary but was of extreme urgency.”

Thus, he said, the purchase of these pandemic supplies, which were identified as “common-use supplies and equipment,” was made “in accordance with law.”

The oversight hearing at the House of Representatives followed the endorsement on May 8 by Ombudsman Samuel Martires of criminal charges against Duque and Budget Undersecretary Lloyd Christopher Lao over the “illegal” transfer of billions in public funds from the Department of Health to the PS-DBM in 2020.

READ: Hontiveros: Probe ex-president Duterte based on Duque’s revelation


If she had her way, Sen. Risa Hontiveros would have wanted to reopen the Senate probe into the alleged anomalous procurement of medical supplies and equipment for the country’s COVID-19 response during the Duterte administration.

“We have wanted it for a long time. We were just waiting for what we can call a new matter, a new resource person or whistleblower, or a new evidence. That would have been former [Health] Secretary [Francisco] Duque [III],” Hontiveros said at a press briefing on Wednesday.

“It was good while it lasted, right? I was almost impressed with Secretary Duque. Well, if he was saying he was taken out of context, unfortunately, that’s the oldest excuse in the book for all of us working in the public sphere,” Hontiveros said.

“If [Secretary Duque] now refuses to be part of finding the whole truth, it’s really his loss. Mostly it’s the loss of the Philippines and us Filipinos,” she said.

The senator said telling the truth about the issue would have been Duque’s chance at “redeeming himself and the institutional image of the Department of Health.”

But Hontiveros said she is not losing hope that the truth and justice will prevail and those behind the anomaly would eventually be held accountable.

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

Asked if those who should be made accountable should include Duterte, she said: “If proven that he ordered the fund transfer if he was a part of the dubious procurement and overpricing, it would be our duty to make him accountable.”

TAGS: DBM, DoH, Francisco Duque III

© Copyright 1997-2024 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.