Ex-Health Dept. consultant bares 'mafia' operating in DOH

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Department of Health. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 13) — A former consultant of the Department of Health (DOH) tagged 19 former and incumbent officials, including former Health Secretary Janette Garin, as part of a "mafia."

Dr. Francis Cruz, a former consultant under Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial, said this "mafia" benefited from the purchase of the more than ₱3-billion controversial Dengvaxia vaccine and other projects.

"These are not hardened criminals that they intended to be a mafia. They evolved to be a mafia. They are bureaucrats who got tempted hindi ba then they formed a collusion at namihasa na [and they got used to it]," Cruz said in an interview Saturday.

Cruz said the officials in the "mafia" are behind the purchase of the anti-dengue vaccines, ghost projects of the Health Facilities Enhancement Program (HFEP) worth ₱23 billion, and assorted medicines worth ₱12 billion.

When asked how the "mafia" profited from the purchases and the projects, Cruz said, "No, its not a kickback. It's worse kasi. These are all insiders with accredited suppliers who could be a financier."

He added that 90 percent of the disbursed funds goes back to DOH, 10 percent goes back to the financier.

Cruz said he will go to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) next week to turn over documents.

"Kulong kayo. Maniwala kayo. Magsunog na kayo ng dokumento sa.... Hindi mapapalitan ang ibang documents. Alangan sunugin niyo ang Landbank, ang DBM, ang National Treasury," he said.

[Translation: You'll be jailed, believe me. Burn the documents, they won't be replaced. You can't burn down Landbank, the Department of Budget and Management, and the National Treasury.]

All lies?

Garin denied Cruz's allegations, saying that it's a "shame" for a former Health Department consultant to malign his other co-officials.

"His motivation in hurling this unsubstantiated accusations against career DOH officials is very questionable. If indeed he knows of anomalies in the DOH, why did he not file cases in court or the Ombudsman?" Garin said in a text message.

She said Cruz should substantiate his claims.

"I will definitely stop him if he is intending to destroy the DOH as an institution, even if I have to file a libel case against him," she added.

Meanwhile, the former Health chief welcomed the documents Cruz claimed to have as proof.

"I welcome those documents, if there are any. I am wondering why he has been allegedly and persistently requesting the suspension of those hardworking, career officials."

She then called for incumbent Health Chief Francisco Duque III to have the allegations investigated.

"These attacks are not only geared towards specific persons. It's an attack on the institution, seemingly designed to paralyze Sec. Duque and DOH," Garin said.

Cruz earlier testified at the Senate hearing on the Dengvaxia vaccine on December 11.

The National Bureau of Investigation is already investigating the controversial purchase and the vaccination of more than 873,000 children despite health risks.

Atty. Ferdinand Topacio of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) said they're already building a case against those individuals. The VACC is working with the Public Attorney's Office on forensic examination on children who were administered with the vaccine.

CNN Philippines' Correspondent Anjo Alimario and digital producer Chad de Guzman contributed to this report.