Philippine health secretary faces graft and plunder charges

The Philippines’ health secretary, Francisco Duque, faces graft and plunder charges.

BA had the chance to speak with his brother, Gonzalo Duque, who was also named in the plunder complaint.

Duque is charged with plunder and graft by the Office of the Ombudsman.

Duque is accused of conflict of interest over a lease agreement entered into by his family’s corporation with state health insurer — Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, or PhilHealth.

According to the complaint filed by parents of some of the alleged Dengvaxia victims, Duque benefited from the “exorbitant” monthly rental because he did not divest himself of his 13,268 shares of stock in the company, equivalent to 1/8 of the company’s total shares.

“They are being used by Atty. Presida Acosta, the chief of the PAO,” said his brother Dr. Gonzalo Duque. “And I’m sad because you go to the PAO and they determine whether your case is meritorious or not. But you know they are the ones seducing these complainants to file these cases.”

Duque believes these charges are part of a bigger plan.

“I think there is a pattern. A pattern of… a plan to unseat my brother by forcing him to resign. I hope he does not until he clears his name.”

Senator Ping Lacson has been calling for the health secretary’s resignation — however, Duque says government officials should work together.

“I hope that we can work together and find solutions to the problems besetting the PhilHealth organization.”

Duque suggests creating a judicial commission to resolve the PhilHealth issue through penalizing officers involved and possibly stripping away those with professional licenses.

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