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Despite plunder complaints, Palace says Duque has Duterte’s trust, confidence

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III still enjoys the trust and confidence of President Rodrigo Duterte, Malacañang said Tuesday, as the Cabinet official faced accusations of conflict of interest.

"Ang presumption is you're innocent unless proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt. I think the Secretary of Health still enjoys the trust and confidence of the President," presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said at a news conference.

Duque's latest legal woes stemmed from the complaints for plunder and graft filed against him before the Office of the Ombudsman by parents of children who died due to the supposed adverse effects of anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia.  

Duque has previously said that there was no conflict of interest regarding the lease because PhilHealth Regional Office 1 was already a tenant of their family-owned Lyceum-Northwestern University—under the corporate name Educational and Medical Development Corp.—when he left government service in 2015 and eventually got elected as its president.

He said he signed the contract for the lease for a year in 2016 when he was still a private citizen and that he resigned as the president of the university and corporation in 2018 when he was appointed as Health Secretary in October 2017.

"Kung sinasabi mo na family-owned it doesn't mean na sa kanya yun. Kung nag-divest na siya ng share niya doon eh di na mag-apply ang sinasabing conflict of interest," Panelo said.

The Health chief said on Monday that he would not be distracted by the complaints "in my pursuit to properly and fully implement the universal healthcare and ensure the prosecution of fraudulent PhilHealth claims." —NB, GMA News