By Marjaleen Ramos
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III denied on Monday allegations that he had a hand in his family’s pharmaceutical firm’s bagging of two government contracts to supply medicine to public hospitals.
“In the firm, I divested since 2006. I had nothing to do with these contracts,” Duque said in an interview with ANC Headstart.
Duque said that when he was first appointed by former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as Health Secretary, they already thought that there would be a “conflict of interest”.
“Ang iniisip namin, magkakaroon ng conflict of interest because I was a shareholder of the DPI,” he added.
He cited that their family has owned the Doctors Pharmaceuticals Inc. (DPI) since the 1990s, which meant that the firm has already been bidding for projects prior to his appointment.
“It’s not as if it just started bidding during my time,” the health secretary said.
“In fact during my time, pinahinto ko nga kasi nga sabi ko magkakaroon ng conflict of interest but in spite of the fact that I divested, I told my brother pwede ba, wag na kayo mag-bidding diyan.”
He also said that their family’s lease with PhilHealth underwent proper bidding procedures.
Duque said DPI had a deal with Philippine International Trading Corp. Pharma Inc., noting that it was under the Department of Trade and Industry and not the Department of Health.
“That is pure conjecture and speculation. Basta sa akin, naaayon sa batas. You have to divest if you know the risk conflict,” he said.
Duque was appointed DOH chief in 2017. In assuming the post, he was also PhilHealth board’s ex-officio chairman.