• By The Financial District


The Department of Health (DOH) came under fire for rejecting respirators, much needed in the current pandemic, because of a joint memorandum circular of the DOH and the Civil Service Commission that prohibits donations coming from tobacco companies.

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That memorandum circular, which was outed during a Congress hearing on what is being cited as an illegal solicitation of funds by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from a foreign lobby group, was signed in 2010 by Health Secretary Francisco Duque, then head of the Civil Service Commission.

Both the DOH and CSC signed Joint Memorandum Circular 2010-01 which prevented tobacco companies from making donations.

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The said joint memorandum circular was cited by the DOH, now headed by Duque, in denying the donation of respirators from tobacco companies during a surge in the pandemic.

The respirators could have prevented the loss of thousands of lives, it was learned.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, during a hearing by the Senate, said he was disturbed by news about the rejection by the DOH of donations.

“Everybody would need every respirator and yet you have taken it upon yourself and I see nothing in JMC which would justify your rejection of your donation just because it came from a tobacco company,” Drilon said.

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Duque said, “we were refrained from receiving this given JMC 2010-01 that was signed by the Civil Service Commission and the DOH in 2010.”

The denial by the government of the donations of respirators from tobacco companies is one issue that has bedeviled the DOH response to the COVID-19 pandemic as the virus attacks the respiratory system that requires respirators to prevent untimely deaths.

“There is absolutely no basis for you to take this action. It is an overreach on the part of the DOH to reject such a donation simply because it came from a tobacco company. I do hope that this JMC is submitted and reviewed by DOJ,” Drilon said.


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