MANILA - Department of Health (DOH) officials on Wednesday denied allegations that they are part of an alleged "mafia" in the agency.
Dr. Francis Cruz, a former consultant at the Department of Health, recently claimed that at least 18 incumbent and former officials profited from the government's controversial P3.5-billion dengue vaccine program.
In a statement, the officials said they "categorically deny these accusations."
"The allegations of Dr. Cruz are unfounded, malicious and aimed to destroy the reputation of innocent public officials and the DOH as an institution," the officials said.
Cruz had said the alleged DOH mafia was involved in a conversion scheme, in which 90 percent of a project’s budget goes back to the agency and 10 percent goes back to the financier or suppliers.
The officials, meanwhile, dared Cruz to file a sworn affidavit.
"If Dr. Cruz really believes his allegation, we challenge him to put it in a sworn affidavit. Otherwise, his statements are false, useless and not worthy of belief. We are not afraid to face him in court," they said.
"As career officials who have committed decades of serious work and perform our duties professionally, we appeal to the public to be cautious in entertaining false accusations and malicious tirades."
Among those who signed the statement were DOH Undersecretaries Mario Villaverde, Lilibeth David, Gerardo Bayugo, Ma. Carolina Taiño, Assistant Secretaries Lyndon Lee Suy and Nestor Santiago Jr., OIC-Directors Maria Joyce Ducusin and Mar Wynn Bello, Director Laureano Cruz, Regional Directors Ariel Valencia and Rio Magpantay, and Dr. Julius Lecciones.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III has promised to probe the allegation once Cruz is able to present documentary evidence.
Former Health Secretary Janette Garin, meanwhile, challenged Cruz to file charges against her and the other officials to prove his allegations.