MANILA (UPDATE) - Health Secretary Francisco Duque denied Monday accusations that he had a hand in his family firm bagging 2 government contracts to supply medicine in public hospitals.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson, in an Inquirer report, said two supply contracts bagged by Doctors Pharmaceuticals Inc. (DPI) lasted until October 2017, when President Rodrigo Duterte appointed Duque as health secretary.
Duque, however, said he "had nothing to do with all of these contracts" because he divested from the company in 2006.
"I divested so how can there be conflict of interest? That is pure conjecture and speculation. Basta sa'kin naaayon sa batas na (For me it's under the law that) you have to divest if you know there is a potential conflict of interest," he told ANC's Headstart.
Duque said DPI had a contract with Philippine International Trading Corp. Pharma Inc., which he said was under the Department of Trade and Industry and not the Department of Health.
But he said he would have to check the dates of the DPI's contracts with the PITC Pharma Inc.
The health chief also said he was not involved in the affairs of the family firm during his time as a private citizen as he was "too busy" managing his family's university in Dagupan.
"I’m too busy in Dagupan. We have university in Dagupan where served for almost 2 and a half years that was consumed my time. This is in Taguig, so walang time (there's no time)," he said.
Lacson earlier aired on social media Duque's history as Health secretary in 2004, under the administration of then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
The senator said that the regional office of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. in Pangasinan is renting out a building that is owned by Duque's family. Duque is the ex-officio chairman of the PhilHealth board of directors.
The health secretary said the lease contract was supposed to expire in 2017, but local PhilHealth officials asked to extend it after failing to buy a new office.
"Baligtad iyung sinasabi ng mga tao, parang kami iyung naglalako, which is really patently wrong," he said.
(The reverse is true for what people are saying, that we peddled the property.)
The contract, he added, passed the bidding process and "there was no attempt to cover this thing up."
Duque said he will answer allegations against him "as factually as I can."
"I respect his (Lacson's) opinion, I respect where he's coming from. I know that he wants to fight for good, accountable, transparent governance. I have no doubt about it," he said.