MANILA, Philippines — The siblings of Health Secretary Francisco Duque said they avoided doing business with the Department of Health (DOH) ever since their brother assumed government office.
“Ever since our brother Secretary Duque assumed office, it was already the policy of the family not to bid with any DOH contract,” Duque’s sister Luz Duque-Hammershaimb said during the hearing of the Senate blue ribbon committee on alleged corruption and fraud at PhilHealth Wednesday.
Duque’s brother Cesar Duque stressed they had instructions there should not be any transaction with the Health agency as soon as their brother assumes office.
“Specific ho ang instructions namin na nung umupo ang aming kapatid, wala na dapat transaksyon sa gobyerno, sa DOH, o yung sa opisina n’ya,” Cesar said.
Hammershaimb and Cesar are president and chair of Doctors Pharmaceuticals Inc. (DPI), as per 2018 records of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson during his privilege speech last month mentioned how DPI has been bidding contracts with the DOH since 2005, a time when Duque was still Health chief under the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Lacson also said another family-owned company Educational and Medical Development Corp. (EMDC) had lease contracts with PhilHealth for its building in Dagupan City.
Duque, however, insisted there is no conflict of interest and addressed the issues hounding his involvement with EMDC and the DPI.
“I assure that my personal interest in EMDC did not in any way conflict with the interest of the government,” Duque said.
He explained: “In fact, the Philhealth Region 1 lease of EMDC property was advantageous to the government because it allowed the PhilHealth Region 1 to move out of a building which was declared a fire hazard and continue its operations in a new office at a reasonable price.”
Duque added how DPI has been a government contractor even before he was born and even before he assumed office as Health secretary.
“DPI did not become an accredited government contractor and supplier for the first time in 2005. The truth of the matter is that DPI has been an accredited government contractor since before I was even born, and certainly well before I ever acquired an interest in the company,” Duque said. /jpv
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