Malacañang bares reason for Puno sacking

Former FDA director general Nela Charade Puno.

President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to fire Nela Charade Puno as director general of the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) was due to numerous complaints about her alleged corrupt practices within the agency, Malacanang bared on Wednesday.

Duterte ordered the termination of Puno last 15 May in line with his mandate to eradicate graft and corruption and “to ensure that public officials and employees conduct themselves in a manner worthy of public trust,” the letter from the Palace ordering Puno’s termination read.

Presidential spokesperson and chief legal counsel Salvador Panelo said the President has received numerous complaints from many doctors, including his personal physician, and other sectors against Puno.

Meanwhile, Duterte’s move was welcomed by a group of pharmaceutical companies.

“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,” read the letter of gratitude sent to Duterte by Teodoro Padilla, executive director of the Pharmaceutical & Healthcare Association of the Philippines’ (PHAP).

“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,” said Padilla in the letter.

The PHAP said it will remain committed to supporting and partnering with the Duterte administration with regards to policy decisions in attaining the government’s overall health and economic goals for the Filipinos.

Panelo revealed that the Department of Health (DoH) will forward to the Department of Justice (DoJ) reports and other documents from the Commission on Audit (CoA) regarding irregularities unearthed in the agency for evaluation.

Malacanang is also waiting for sworn statements from complainants detailing corrupt acts supposedly committed by Puno, including the alleged misuse of government funds, to be submitted to the President for review.

“Whatever appropriate charges that the DoJ may find will be filed,” said Panelo.