Health chief to review DOH contracts under Aquino
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Monday said he would order a review of the contracts entered into by the Department of Health (DOH) under the Aquino administration as he urged those who had evidence of corruption in the agency to come forward and file charges against the officials involved.
“I encourage those who are painting the Department of Health in a bad light to present evidence to substantiate their claims. I cannot allow accusers to tarnish the good reputation of the Department of Health, which it has gloriously built over the years, by spewing unsubstantiated allegations,” Duque said in a statement.
Duque’s statement came after Dr. Francis Cruz, a consultant to then Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial, exposed on Saturday the operations of an alleged “mafia” in the DOH composed of several former and current officials linked to corruption, including the controversial procurement of Dengvaxia vaccine.
Cruz named the DOH officials, including former Health Secretary Janette Garin, whom he accused of pushing for the acquisition of dengue vaccine to gain profit.
He identified at least 18 incumbent and former DOH officials who allegedly benefited from the P3.5-billion immunization program.
Cruz identified them as Dr. Mario Villaverde, Dr. Gerardo Bayugo, Lilibeth David, Carol Taño; Assistant Secretaries Lyndon Lee-Suy and Nestor Santiago; OIC Directors Joyce Ducusin and Marvin Bello; Financial Management Service Director Larry Cruz; Directors Leonila Gorgolon, Ariel Valencia and Rio Magpantay; and Philippine Children’s Medical Center chief Julius Lecciones.
Former health officials linked by Cruz to the alleged mafia were Undersecretaries Nemesio Gako and Kenneth Hartigan-Go and Director Yolanda Oliveros.
Cruz alleged that the officials were involved in the conversion scheme, in which 90 percent of the project’s budget goes back to the agency and 10 percent goes back to the financier or suppliers.
Garin, in a statement, denied Cruz’s allegations, saying these were questionable and unsubstantiated.
There was no immediate comment from the current and former officials named by Cruz but Duque urged them to respond to the allegations and clear their names.
“While the allegations are still unsubstantiated at this point, I will order a review of the contracts entered into by the previous administration,” Duque said. —WITH A REPORT FROM JHOANNA BALLARAN
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