By Catherine A Modesto /Manila Times
Former Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) chief Nela Charade Puno has denied any involvement in corruption as she accepted the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte to terminate her services.
“I serve at the pleasure of the president and, therefore, I accept his decision without ill feelings. However, I take exception at the mention of so-called ‘corruption allegations,’” Puno said in a statement.
“I leave FDA with a clear conscience and, what I believe, a clean record. It is completely unnecessary to sully the personal and the professional reputations of people who sacrifice to render public service,” she added.
Puno also welcomed any investigation to clear her name, as she noted that she had not been charged of graft in her two years in public office.
“If there will be any such allegations forthcoming, I am ready to face any forum,” she said. In his letter to Puno, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea said, “This is in line with the president’s mandate to eradicate graft and corruption and to ensure that public officials and employees conduct themselves in a manner worthy of public trust.”
Duterte previously warned that he would fire more officials at the executive branch for alleged corruption.
In 2017, he said, “The first whiff (of corruption) and even if it isn’t true, we’ll say goodbye,” referring to his appointees. Several high-ranking officials from the executive branch have been removed from their posts over alleged involvement in corruption, but none of them has been charged, and were eventually reappointed to other posts.
Duterte previously removed former Bureau of Customs chief Isidro Lapena along with other top Customs officials from public office.
He, however, appointed Lapena as director general of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.
Puno is a licensed pharmacist who was in the private sector prior to her appointment as FDA director general in 2016. Department of Health Undersecretary Rolando Domingo would temporarily take Puno’s place. In the notice of termination dated May 15, which Puno received on May 16, Medialdea ordered her to turn over all official documents, papers and assets to the Health department’s Office of the Undersecretary for Health Regulation.
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