MANILA - Health Secretary Francisco Duque III expressed his willingness to take part in any investigation into the "conflict of interest" revelation made by Senator Panfilo Lacson.
"I welcome all forms of investigation. I'm willing to undergo whatever investigation needs to take place," Duque said in an interview on DZMM Thursday morning.
On Wednesday, Lacson said it was a clear case of conflict interest as the regional office of PhilHealth in Dagupan City in Pangasinan is housed in a building owned by Duque's family.
"Tingin ko, unang-una, walang conflict of interest kasi dinisclose ko naman sa aking SALN na itong kumpanyang ito ang may-ari ay aking pamilya," Duque said.
Duque explained he left government service in 2015 and went back to Dagupan City as a private citizen where he was elected as president of the Lyceum Northwestern University whose corporate name is Education Medical Development Corporation.
"2015-2016 ako ang namuno ng aming corporation at inabutan ko na ang PhilHealth bilang tenant nung korporasyon at ito at nasa campus ng aming university," he said.
When President Rodrigo Duterte asked him to be the Secretary of Health, he resigned from his post as president and CEO and member of the board of their corporation.
"Yung kapatid ko ang pumalit. Habang ako ang nandoon pa at namumuno--'yung kontrata kasi tuloy-tuloy 'yan, every year may renewal--naghahanap sila [PhilHealth] ng panibagong lugar, lote na magtatayo sila ng kanilang building para maging permanent regional center nila," he explained.
But when that supposed transaction in 2016 did not push through the PhilHealth's regional office asked for a renewal of contract in 2017.
In the same program, Lacson said Duque is still listed in the general information sheet from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as a member of the board of his family's corporation.
"Usapang dokumento na lamang ito kung talagang nag-divest siya," Lacson said. "Pero having said that, ganun pa rin ex-officio chairman bilang Secretary of Health pagkatapos yung building pagaari ng pamilya mo whether ikaw ay nag-divest na o hindi pa, doon naka-house yung regional office ng PhilHealth, may problema talaga."
Lacson made the revelation as government girded for the implementation of the Universal Health Care law, which Duterte signed in February. The measure seeks to provide health coverage to all Filipinos.
"Ano ang kaukulang aksiyon ang dapat isagawa ng chairman na nahaharap sa ganitong usapin? 'Di ba dapat ang logical lang dito eh kung 'di mag take ng leave of absence 'wag na yung usapin ng conflict of interest, kung 'di ynug napakalaking anomalya na araw-araw naririnig natin at nababasa natin," he said.