‘Palace aware of corruption charges vs ex-FDA director’

President Rodrigo Duterte has received numerous corruption complaints against the sacked Food and Drug Administration director general Nela Charade Puno, the Palace said, and is eyeing the filing of appropriate charges against her.

Speaking to Palace reporters, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said the Commission on Audit has discovered irregularities involving Puno and the FDA, adding that documents are now in the Department of Justice for evaluation and determination of charges.

“Perhaps in the coming days, according to [Health] Secretary [Francisco] Duque [III], the findings of the COA, as well as other documents, will be forwarded to the Department of Justice for evaluation and for the filing of whatever charges that the Department may find to be appropriate,” Panelo said.

“The President also wants to share to the public that he has received numerous, as in numerous, complaints from doctors, including his own doctor, about the former director general... And the Palace is just awaiting the submission of sworn statements, which shall be forwarded to the DOJ,” he added.

Panelo explained that the COA report is just one of the many reports against Puno. Asked what the complaints speak of, Panelo said: “Corruption.”

“Let’s wait for the sworn statements coming from the so-called victims,” he continued.

Last week, Panelo, upon the instruction of the President, announced to Palace reporters that Puno's dismissal was part of Duterte’s continuing mandate to eradicate graft and corruption in the government.

Panelo, however, did not elaborate further on the root cause of Puno's termination. Still, the DOH, which oversees the operations of the FDA, supported the President’s decision.

Meanwhile, the Palace official added that a local pharmaceutical and healthcare group has expressed support to President Duterte’s decision to dismiss her.

In a letter dated May 17, the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Asociation of the Philippines which represents the research-based providers of medicines and vaccines in the country, expressed gratefulness on Duterte’s swift action regarding the issues at FDA.

“We fully support you resolute actions at the FDA, including the replacement of its director general... Actions such as these underscore your administration’s seriousness in its commitment to fight graft and corruption,” PHAP executive director Teodoro Padilla.

“We highly anticipate that your reforms will lead to improved regulatory services and processes to ensure people’s access to life-saving quality, safe, and efficacious pharmaceutical products,” he continued.

Regardless of the issue, Padilla affirmed the association's commitment to support and partner with the Duterte administration for the attainment of overall health and economic goals.

But even though she had accepted her termination “without ill-feelings,” Puno had denied the corruption allegations lodged against her by Malacañang, saying that she would vacate her position with a “clear conscience.”

Topics: Rodrigo Duterte , Food and Drug Administration , Nela Charade Puno
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