No conflict of interest? Duque family still doing business with DOH, says Lacson
MANILA, Philippines – A company owned by the Duque family got a supply contract for the National Center for Mental Health (NCMH), which is under the Department of Health (DOH), while Francisco Duque III is health secretary of the Duterte Cabinet, Senator Panfilo Lacson alleged on Thursday, September 5.
Citing the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System (PhilGEPS), an online portal of government contracts, Lacson said the Duque family-owned Doctors Pharmaceuticals Incorporated (DPI) was awarded a supply contract for the government's mental health facility on December 3, 2018, while Duque was “already secretary of health.”
This was despite an earlier pronouncement by Duque’s brother Cesar before the Senate blue ribbon committee in August that the family agreed not to do business with the government after Duque was appointed health chief under Duterte.
Duque repeated that he had divested from DPI in 2005, but Lacson said it looked bad either way for DPI to still be doing business with the government.
“Does this mean that your brother violated your instruction [not to do business with the government anymore]?” Lacson asked.
The health secretary said he did not know about the contract with NCMH, and promised Lacson he would confront his brother about the matter.
The senator said he was willing to give Duque the benefit of the doubt, but added it was no excuse for the health secretary’s apparent unfamiliarity with the supply contract.
In his privilege speech in July, Lacson singled out DPI, saying that the company had been bidding for government contracts with the DOH since 2005, when Duque was health secretary under the Arroyo administration.
He also called DPI a "lackey business," citing its history of noncompliance to good manufacturing practices. He even added that the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) ordered it closed in 2015. But another Duque sibling, Luz Duque Hammershaimb, said DPI had worked to rectify the errors pointed out by the FDA. – Rappler.com