Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III expressed his gratitude to President Rodrigo Duterte for his unwavering trust amid the health secretary’s alleged involvement in the corruption scandal rocking the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).

 “First of all, I would like to thank the President for his continued trust and confidence in my capacity to work as Secretary of Health and my integrity that he has long recognized,” Duque shared with GMA News.

Duterte said in his weekly report to the nation on Monday night that he “cannot really find a good reason to prosecute an innocent man.” Duque is one of the names being tagged as part of the recent corruption anomalies in PhilHealth where he also chairs. 

Duterte has an existing history with Duque before giving him back the Health portfolio. The president first assigned Duque as chairperson of the Government Service Insurance System in 2017.

“He always stands by me. He believes in my honesty and probity and my integrity. He doesn’t believe that I can do something to cheat government,” Duque added.

Duque also mentioned that despite the previous backlash and calls for him to resign, he had also thought of giving up his position.

“Yeah, of course. Tagal na. But you know, the President kept saying nga na walang resign-resign. So, you know, I already told the President then that the accusations are really affecting me and my ability to deliver on my mandate. It’s affecting my work because of the distractions pero sabi niya, no. Just continue and I stand by you,” he said.

He also assured the public that he will cooperate with any investigation on PhilHealth anomalies since he is confident that he was not part of the corruption scandal.

“That is my objective, to clear my name so that you know the truth has to be ferreted out. And the truth must come out. The only way I can clear myself is when the truth comes out about all of these allegations which are baseless,” Duque said.

Duque rejected any form of involvement in PhilHealth’s interim reimbursement mechanism – an emergency cash advance to help medical facilities cope in times of natural calamities and disasters. 

He also explained that since the battle against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) started, he had been on leave from his post in PhilHealth with Congress removing him as ex-officio chair of Philhealth’s board to vote.

“I was not part kasi four months nga akong absent and I delegated the chairmanship to then president and CEO General Morales,” Duque explained. RJ Espartinez