Duterte bares ‘numerous complaints’ against sacked FDA chief

Duterte bares ‘numerous complaints’ against sacked FDA chief

MANILA — Numerous complaints against Nela Charade Puno, the dismissed director general of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), are among the reasons President Rodrigo Duterte decided to dismiss her, Malacañang said on Wednesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said despite Puno’s statement that she was clueless about the corruption allegations, a pharmaceutical and health care group, as well as several doctors, are willing to submit their sworn statements against the fired official.

“The President received among others, a letter coming from one of the biggest if not the biggest association of pharmaceutical and health care groups in the country and I’d like to read this to the public as instructed to the President,” said Panelo in a Palace briefing.

Panelo was referring to the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP), which recently expressed support for the President’s decision to replace Puno.

“We are deeply grateful that you have acted swiftly on our issues and concerns at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and 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,” said Panelo, reading a letter from PHAP Executive Director Teodoro Padilla.

“We fully support your resolute actions at the FDA, including the replacement of its Director General, for us to effectively and efficiently conduct commerce that is consistent with your agenda of increasing competitiveness and ease of doing business to fuel human capital and economic development. Actions such as these underscore your Administration’s seriousness in its commitment to fight graft and corruption, for which we have taken notice and are extremely grateful,” he added.

Panelo said that according to the President, several doctors have also complained about Puno, but did not elaborate what these complaints were about.

“The President also wants to share to the public that he has received numerous complaints against doctors, including his own doctor, about the former director general and many complaints coming from many sectors and the Palace is just awaiting for the submission of sworn statements which will be forwarded to the Department of Justice,” Panelo said.

Panelo also bared that the Department of Justice (DOJ) will evaluate a report from the Commission on Audit (COA) concerning the alleged “excessive and unnecessary expenditure” of the FDA in 2017 under Puno.

He said the Palace will leave to the DOJ the task of assessing whether there would be a need to file charges against Puno over corruption allegations.

“Perhaps in the coming days, according to (Health) Sec. (Francisco) Duque, the findings of the COA as well as other documents have been forwarded to the Department of Justice for evaluation and for the filing of whatever appropriate charges that the department may find to be appropriate,” Panelo said.

On May 16, Panelo announced that the President has terminated Puno’s appointment over corruption allegations.

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, in a letter to Puno dated May 15, said the reason for her termination is “in line with the President’s continuing mandate to eradicate graft and corruption”.  Azer Parrocha / PNA – northboundasia.com