Health Secretary Francisco Duque III earlier denied allegations of conflict of interest thrown by Sen. Panfilo Lacson.
The STAR/Michael Varcas
Raps filed vs Duque over PhilHealth lease of family's building
( - June 24, 2019 - 4:57pm

MANILA, Philippines — Kin of alleged Dengvaxia victims filed a plunder, graft and breach of conduct complaint against Health Secretary Francisco Duque III over his alleged stock ownership of a building leased to the Philippine Health Insurance Corp.

The complainants accused Duque of violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees and An Act Defining and Penalizing the Crime of Plunder.

The complaint was filed before the Office of the Ombudsman on June 21, but a copy was released only on Monday.

The families said there is conflict of interest as Duque is a stockholder of Educational and Medical Development Corporation, which was leased to PhilHealth Region I.

They noted that while Duque has been “on leave” as director of the EDMC when the contract was executed, he did not divest his ownership.

“EMDC where respondent Duque III is a substantial stockholder entered into a Lease Contract with Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, where Duque is also an ex-officio chairman,” the complaint read.

“In the business transaction between EMDC and PhilHealth, a manifest conflict of interest arises, considering that [Duque] is a substantial stockholder of the said private corporation and at the same time the head of the government corporation in which his family corporation had transacted,” they added.

Duque is on the PhilHealth board by virtue of his position as Health secretary.

Lacson allegation

Sen. Panfilo Lacson earlier said in a media forum that he learned about Duque’s supposed ownership of a building leased to PhilHealth in Dagupan City, Pangasinan.

“If this is not a conflict of interest I don’t know what is. He is the owner of the building and there is a contract of lease and that is a family corporation. And you are a member of the board... it’s here in the general information sheet. And the signatory in the contract of lease is his own sister. I have the documents already,” Lacson told the Kapihan sa Senado forum.

READ: Lacson cites ‘conflict of interest’ vs Duque

Duque then denied Lacson’s allegation of conflict of interest and said the lease contract already existed when he joined the family business.

He stressed he was not yet with the Department of Health and PhilHealth then.

The complainants, meanwhile, said that Duque’s brother, Gonzalo, admitted in a DZRH interview that “their family owns the building but insisted that they are innocent.”

“He explained that they entered the lease agreement with PhilHealth more than 20 years ago and it did not happen recently,” the complainants, noting a part of Gonzalo’s interview, said.

The Public Attorney’s Office assisted the families in filing the complaint.

PAO also assisted families of alleged Dengvaxia victims in filing criminal complaints against former and incumbent officials over the controversial anti-Dengue vaccine. — Kristine Joy Patag with report from The STAR/Elizabeth Marcelo

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