MANILA - Sen. Panfilo Lacson unearthed another transaction between the pharmaceutical firm of the family of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and the health department which he said smacks of impropriety by the Cabinet official.
Citing data gathered from the government’s procurement portal, Lacson said Doctors Pharmaceuticals Inc. (DPI), chaired by Duque’s brother Cesar, bagged a deal to provide adult multivitamins for the National Center for Mental Health (NCMH), a Department of Health (DOH)-run facility.
Lacson said the contract’s notice of award is Dec. 3, 2018, while the notice to proceed is Jan. 28, 2019.
Duque said he only got to learn about the transaction during Thursday’s Senate Blue Ribbon committee hearing, and stressed that he already divested from the firm.
“It’s still a family corporation. Whether or not you divested is another matter,” Lacson told Duque.
“I’ll take this under advisement and tell my brother why did DPI supply the NCMH,” Duque replied.
“Truth to tell, I’m not aware of any of this. I will talk to him.”
Lacson said he would give Duque the benefit of the doubt, but warned that “if this persists, it would not look good.”
“Not knowing this should not be an excuse because you are still the secretary of health,” Lacson said.
Lacson had earlier grilled Duque over his family firm’s previous transactions with the government.
He also castigated the health secretary after learning that his family was leasing a structure to the PhilHealth’s office in Dagupan City, Pangasinan.
Duque has maintained he did not abuse his power as health chief.