Duque slams Garin over barangay health station mess

Marje Pelayo   •   July 4, 2018   •   3265

Former Health Secretary Janette Garin (left) and Incumbent Health secretary Francisco Duque III (right)

 

PASAY CITY, Philippines – Former Health Secretary Janette Garin stressed that the worsening state of healthcare facilities in the country during her term prompted the construction of barangay health stations (BHS).

Garin argued that during those times, around 20,000 BHS were to address the health care needs of communities.

She blamed her successors in the Department of Health (DOH) for the failure of the project, an accusation that the current Health Secretary dismissed.

“The leadership decision of the succeeding secretaries not to support the project if ever this is true might have led to the unsuccessful completion of the project,” Garin said during Wednesday’s (July 4) Senate inquiry on the BHS anomaly.

Secretary Francisco Duque III was quick to react saying they were just recipients of the flaws in management of previous DOH heads.

 “We are at the receiving ends all of these. We are trying to fix the mess because the planning was just I think it’s very deficient and very defective to begin with,” he argued.

The issue stemmed from a 2017 audit report of the Commission on Audit (COA) which revealed irregularities in the planning and construction of 5,700 BHS in public schools from 2015 to 2016 specifically the validation of BHS locations and the implementation of the project despite lack of proper guidelines.

 

A barangay health station located inside Barangay Balumbato Elementary School in Quezon City

 

Aside from constant delays, the BHS project was not completed.

Senators expressed dismay since the fund used for the BHS project came from DOH’s savings in December 2015 coinciding with the release of the special allotment order (SARO) for Dengvaxia.

“Does this become a proactive habit na ire-realign, gagamitin ang savings kapag alam ninyong hindi gagamitin (Does this become a proactive habit, the realignment of savings when you know that it is not going to be used)?” questioned Senator JV Ejercito, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography.

Garin clarified that the equipment procured during her time was only capable of conducting small check ups, in defense to the accusation that sets of medical equipment were procured even prior to the construction of BHS.

For its part, J Bros Construction Corporation as the project’s contractor claimed that the project’s implementation lacked proper guidance that’s why it was terminated.

“Not only that they do not know about the project. Sometimes the sites are not even available. There’s no space in the school or they have issues,” revealed J Bros’ Board Member Atty. Julieanne Jorge.

During the hearing, Garin dared Duque to challenge her in court over the BHS mess. – Nel Maribojoc / Marje Pelayo

 

Lacson open to talking to Duque amid conflict of interest claims

Robie de Guzman   •   August 2, 2019

(L-R) Senator Panfilo Lacson and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson on Thursday said he is open to a dialogue with Health Secretary Francisco Duque III who is facing allegations of conflict of interest.

Lacson made the statement in response to Duque’s remark that he is trying to reach out to the senator to clarify his claims.

READ: Duque to reach out to Lacson on conflict of interest claims

However, rather than having a dialogue, the senator believes it would be better for Duque to explain the issue to the public.

“At the end of the day its between him and God, it’s between him and his conscience, it’s between him and the public,” Lacson told reporters in a briefing on Thursday.

Lacson recently revealed that Duque’s family-owned Doctors Pharmaceuticals company bagged government contracts in 2016 and 2017. He also said that Duque’s family owned the building being leased by PhilHealth in Pangasinan.

Duque has repeatedly denied the allegations, insisting that he already divested from his family’s firm.

The senator also bared that the health chief has been setting up meetings with several congressmen who are allies of former President and House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

It was during Arroyo’s presidency when Duque was appointed as Health secretary in 2005.

“Ang impormasyon ko nakikiusap siya sa kaalyado ng dating Pangulong Arroyo na magkaroon ng pagpupulong sa mga kongresista, kung bakit hindi ko alam,” Lacson said.

(Based on the information I received he is talking with the allies of former President Arroyo to have a meeting with congressmen. Why? I don’t know.)

The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee is set to investigate Duque and other issues dogging the Department of Health and the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Phillhealth).

Lacson hopes that Duque will attend the inquiry to shed some light on these issues, particularly the alleged corruption within Philhealth.

“It seems na meron talagang mafia-like group sa PhilHealth na nagmamanipula ng pondo,” he said.

(It seems there really is a mafia-like group in PhilHealth that manipulates funds.)

Lacson said his exposé about the anomalies in PhilHealth is in response to President Rodrigo Duterte’s challenge to fight corruption, which the chief executive emphasized in his fourth State of the Nation Address last July 22. (with details from Nel Maribojoc)

Duque won’t be asked to file a leave amid corruption probe — Palace

Marje Pelayo   •   August 1, 2019

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III

MANILA, Philippines – Palace Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said President Rodrigo Duterte will not ask Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to file a leave of absence despite an imminent investigation against him for allegations of impropriety.

The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chaired by Senator Richard Gordon is set to probe Duque for alleged conflict of interest over deals between the government and pharmaceutical companies owned by his family, and for allowing PhilHealth office in Pangasinan to rent in a family-owned property.

“That is his call,” said Panelo.

Panelo asked critics to let the due process of law take its course on the matter.

He added that while the investigation is ongoing, the presumption of innocence remains on the accused under the Constitution.

“Those who charge him should submit proof to support their accusations,” Panelo concluded. — with reports from Rosalie Coz

Duque to reach out to Lacson on conflict of interest claims

Robie de Guzman   •   July 30, 2019

Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III (L) and Senator Panfilo Lacson (R)

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III on Tuesday expressed hope to reach out to Senator Panfilo Lacson to discuss the latter’s allegations on conflict of interest.

“I have been trying, but so far, to no avail,” Duque told reporters in an interview Tuesday.

“I will probably need to identify a person who will be able to help bridge us so that we can come together, hopefully just help one another for the sake of government and for the sake of public service,” he added.

Lacson recently bared that Duque’s family-owned Doctors Pharmaceuticals company bagged two government contracts in 2016 and 2017. He also said that Duque’s family owned the building leased by Philhealth in Pangasinan.

Duque has denied the allegations, insisting that he already divested from his family’s firm.

The health chief said he has filed a complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman on the issue of the building being leased by Philhealth in Dagupan town in Pangasinan.

“Meron na kaso tayong complaint na naka-file sa Ombudsman, and my lawyer has advised me to wait until the complaint affidavit has been submitted to us,” he said.

Duque, meanwhile, believes that he still has President Rodrigo Duterte’s trust despite the allegations he is facing.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo earlier said that Duque still enjoys the trust of the president even as probe into the allegations against the health official begins. (RDG with details from Aiko Miguel)

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