No need for Duque to go on leave, says Palace

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 31 2019 03:20 PM

MANILA- Health Secretary Francisco Duque III can continue his work despite an imminent Senate investigation into allegations of impropriety against him, Malacañang said Wednesday.

President Rodrigo Duterte has no plans to ask Duque to go on leave, the chief executive’s spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a radio interview.

"Kung sino ang inaakusahan, hayaan nating magkaroon ng imbestigasyon. Pero habang wala pang resulta (Let us let the investigation unfold. Pending the results), the presumption of innocence under the Constitution applies to every person being accused of any wrongdoing,” Panelo said in an interview on dzRH radio.

The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee will investigate allegations against Duque, its chairman Sen. Richard Gordon said Tuesday.

The inquiry, according to Gordon, aims to find out whether Duque breached ethics when his family’s pharmaceuticals firm bagged deals with the government while he was health secretary, as Senator Panfilo Lacson alleged. 

Panelo on Tuesday also revealed that the Palace is investigating allegations of conflict of interest against Duque but clarified that the health chief continues to enjoy the trust of the President.

The health chief had denied involvement 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.

Duterte appointed Duque as head of the health department in October 2017 following the Commission on Appointments' rejection of his first health chief Paulyn Ubial.

Duque first served as secretary of health from 2005 to 2010 during the administration of then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.