'A clear attack of my character': Ex-FDA chief awaits Palace explanation on sacking


Posted at May 20 2019 10:58 AM | Updated as of May 20 2019 11:22 AM

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MANILA -- The director of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Monday said she has yet to receive Malacañang's explanation on the corruption allegations that led to her dismissal. 

FDA Director General Nela Charade Puno's termination was announced by Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Thursday, citing "the President's continuing mandate to eradicate graft and corruption" as the grounds for her removal.

However, Puno said she has not been charged in any case and is not facing any official investigation. 

She said she sought clarification from Panelo, who told her that "he was just asked to read... my termination." 

"I respect the President. It's just that if they wanted me out, they could have just talked to me because this is a clear attack of my character. I have asked them. There's no response," she told ANC. 

Before her dismissal, Puno said Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo urged her to voluntarily step down from her post, supposedly saying "you need to resign because you will not like what may happen to you if you don't." 

Puno said she refused to resign "because I didn't do anything [wrong]." 

Under her leadership, the official said the FDA apprehended many drug counterfeiters, including foreign nationals distributing fake rabies vaccines, and reduced its backlog of product registration to around 8,000 applications as of January from 60,000. 

Puno also said she did not meet with individual companies and instead accommodated them as a chamber to remove opportunities for bribery. 

"That chance of trying to bribe me never happened. I made sure there is no mechanism for them to do that," said the FDA chief. 

"We are doing our job, we've taken down a lot of criminals," she added.