Duterte fires Food and Drug Administration chief Nela Charade Puno

Pia Ranada
Duterte fires Food and Drug Administration chief Nela Charade Puno
(UPDATED) The letter terminating FDA Director General Nela Charade Puno says the move is part of President Rodrigo Duterte's crackdown on government corruption but does not provide details

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – President Rodrigo Duterte has fired Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Director General Nela Charade Puno, Malacañang announced on Thursday, May 16.

Puno’s services were ordered “terminated” in a letter signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea on Wednesday, May 15. 

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo read out the letter to media on Thursday.

The termination was “upon the instructions of the President” and effective immediately, the letter dai.

The document did not state the exact reason why Puno was fired. But it said the move was part of Duterte’s campaign against government corruption.

“This is in line with the President’s continuing mandate to eradicate graft and corruption and to ensure that public officials and employees conduct themselves in manner worthy of public trust,” read the letter. 

The FDA is under the Department of Health and is primarily in charge of ensuring all food and medicines used in the Philippines are safe for consumption and use.

Rappler sought comment from Puno on her termination but she had yet to reply as of posting.

Puno was appointed as FDA chief in August 2016, its youngest director general.

In October 2018, Puno survived an attack on her convoy in Lupi town, Camarines Sur, but the incident killed 3 cops in her security escort vehicle. Police had blamed the attack on communist rebels and claimed that the cops, and not Puno, were the subject of the ambush. 

Puno had been well-received by the private sector as the first licensed pharmacist to helm the FDA. 

Her first act was a crackdown on fake cosmetics. The FDA, under her leadership, had also stopped the operations of a business selling a “natural cancer treatment.” The FDA, based on a court order, searched the Dr Farrah Agustin Bunch Natural Medical Center in Tarlac and shuttered it after finding unregistered health products in the premises.

After its closure, an anonymous blog post assailed Puno’s qualifications as FDA chief and accused her of “overkill paramilitary tactics” against Dr Bunch. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.