Ex-FDA chief Puno denies corruption allegations
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Director General Nela Charade Puno on Friday, May 17, denied the corruption allegations lodged against her by no less than President Rodrigo Duterte.
“I served as the Director General of the FDA for two years and 10 months with complete honesty, diligence, dedication, and loyalty,” Puno said in a statement.
Puno, who was fired on Thursday, May 16, said there have been no formal charges filed against her, nor was she aware of legal cases or investigations being taken to probe the corruption allegations.
“I take exception to the mention of so-called ‘corruption allegations’ because I am clueless as to what these are…. Of course, if there will be any such allegations forthcoming, I am more than ready to face these in any forum,” she said.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo announced Puno’s termination on Thursday. Malacañang did not state the exact reason why Puno was fired but it said the move was part of Duterte's campaign against corruption in government.
Puno said in her statement that she was “completely unfamiliar” with “political maneuvrings in the bureaucracy" as she had worked in the private sector prior to her appointment in August 2016.
Puno said she received the letter informing her of her termination Thursday afternoon and accepted the President’s decision.
“As a presidential appointee, I serve at the pleasure of the President and therefore I accept his decision without any ill feelings. I would like to thank the President for the opportunity and honor of having served the Food and Drug Administration as its Director General,” she said.
Puno added, “I leave the FDA with a clear conscience and what I believe to be a clean record. It is completely unnecessary to sully the personal and professional reputations of people who sacrifice to render public service.”
The DOH said it supported Duterte’s anti-corruption efforts. It announced Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo will serve as officer-in-charge of the FDA until a new director general was appointed.
The FDA – which is under the Department of Health – is primarily in charge of ensuring all food and medicines used in the Philippines are safe for consumption and use.
Puno had been well-received by the private sector as the first licensed pharmacist to helm the FDA. She was also the youngest to hold the position.
He initiatives included a crackdown on fake cosmetics, digitalization of FDA registration processes, and strict enforcement of FDA regulations in tandem with the Philippine National Police.
Puno made headlines when the FDA stopped the operations of the Dr Farrah Agustin Bunch Natural Medical Center, a business selling a "natural cancer treatment." The FDA, based on a court order, searched Agustin’s medical center in Tarlac and closed it after finding unregistered health products in the premises.
Under her leadership, the FDA reviewed 51 contraceptives, which eventually resulted in the Supreme Court lifting its TRO on the contraceptive implants. Puno also decided to permanently revoke the registration of the Dengvaxia dengue vaccine. – Rappler.com