By Ma. Teresa Montemayor
MANILA — The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) on Thursday said there is no conflict of interest with regard to its contract to rent a building owned by the family of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III for its regional office.
In a statement, the corporation said its PhilHealth Regional Office (PRO) I transferred to Educational and Medical Development Corporation (EMDC) building in Tapuac District, Dagupan City on June 1, 2012, after public bidding compliant to Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act.
“At the time of the procurement, this building was the only facility that provided adequate space as required by PRO I. The building was owned by Lyceum-Northwestern University under corporate name EMDC managed by Atty. Gonzalo T. Duque. The lease contract has been and continues to be a beneficial arrangement for PhilHealth since EMDC has been gracious in providing PhilHealth with free use of parking spots and university facilities,” the statement read.
PhilHealth said the lease contract commenced November 1, 2013, and would expire on December 31, 2019.
“Prior to the expiry of the lease contract, PRO I exerted efforts to find an alternate office building that can accommodate its 148 employees and physical resources. The board solely exercises policy and quasi-judicial functions and we maintain our position that there is no conflict of interest,” it added.
On Wednesday, Senator Panfilo Lacson called the health secretary “hypocrite” for projecting that he has a clean record as a public official with no conflict of interest despite his family’s contract to lease EMDC to PRO I.
“It’s irritating when a government official, despite knowing that he is wrong, is projecting that he has an unblemished record for 35 years. Now look, he’s being hypocrite,” Lacson said in a recent media forum. (PNA)