Composite teams given 30 days to further probe PhilHealth mess – DOJ

Robie de Guzman   •   September 16, 2020   •   311

MANILA, Philippines – The composite teams conducting investigation into the allegations of corruption within the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) have been given 30 days to further probe the issue, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said Wednesday.

In a statement, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said they will ask the teams to finish their investigations into PhilHealth’s IT and legal sectors in a month.

“Then we’ll prepare the complaints if there’s enough evidentiary basis,” he added.

The composite teams consist of members from the DOJ, National Bureau of Investigation, Anti-Corruption Commission, Anti-Money Laundering Council, and Office of the Special Assistant to the President, with the help of the Commission on Audit.

Guevarra said the timeline will begin when recently-installed PhilHealth president and CEO Atty. Dante Gierran formally assumes his post after he takes his oath on Wednesday.

The Task Force PhilHealth led by Guevarra already handed its probe results to President Rodrigo Duterte last Monday.

The report contained findings into the thousands of unfiled cases against erring PhilHealth employees and health care institutions, as well as recommendations on the filing of complaints against several officials of the agency, including its former chief Ricardo Morales.

Some lawmakers have expressed dismay over the exclusion of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, who sits as PhilHealth chairman by virtue of his position, from the list of officials liable for the PhilHealth mess.

But Guevarra earlier stressed that other officials were spared from the list because the investigation is still ongoing.

Meanwhile, the camp of Morales assured that the former PhilHealth chief is ready to face the complaints relating to issues hounding the state insurer.

They also maintained that Morales had no hand in the alleged corruption within the agency.

“Our client is a man of integrity and completely denies any wrongdoings and the criminal charges against him,” Atty. Arnedo Valera, Morales’ legal spokesperson, said.

“His attorneys… will vigorously defend Gen. Morales and will appropriately respond to the criminal complaints either before the Department of Justice and or before the Ombudsman,” he added. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Dante Amento)

Guevarra clarifies task force probe on anomalous gov’t transactions

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 24, 2020

Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra has clarified that the anti-corruption task force is aimed at probing anomalous activities in government offices and not on individuals.

This was after President Rodrigo Duterte announced he has a list of names of lawmakers allegedly involved in the corruption in the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

“So, Mr. President, it’s not really the person who is being investigated but a particular transaction na maaari pong kasama o may involvement itong (which might be involved) any member of the government which is outside of the executive department,” he said.

He also clarified that the Task Force Against Corruption does not have the said list of the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC).

However, Guevarra said the task force will conduct its own investigation once the Office of the Ombudsman has filed a case against individuals possibly involved in corruption.

Guevarra also said it will be up to the Ombudsman if they plan to disclose the names of lawmakers possibly involved in an anomaly.

Meanwhile, according to the PACC Commissioner Greco Belgica, they do not cover investigation on Congressmen but based on the investigation they are conducting on the DPWH, there are lawmakers linked to the alleged anomalies in the department.

“Just to clarify, we are not conducting any investigation against members of Congress because our jurisdiction only covers presidential appointees. But we will submit the report for proper investigation.  It was during the course of the investigation that some congressmen were implicated. Not all, but some,” he said in a statement. -AAC (with reports from Dante Amento)

Gov’t officials not obligated to submit SALN to anti-corruption task force —Sec. Guevarra

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 23, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Government officials are not obligated to submit their Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN) to the anti-corruption task force led by the Department of Justice (DOJ), according to Secretary Menardo Guevarra.

In a statement, Guevarra clarified that a SALN will only be required if a government official is included in the task force’s investigation.

The DOJ official made the statement after the Department of Transportation (DOTr) announced its officials and other staff will submit their SALNs to the DOJ.

“We are not requiring other agencies to submit the SALNs of their officials and employees to the TFAC […] the submission by the DOTr of the SALNs of its officials and employees to the task force is purely the DOTr’s initiative,” he said.

Based on the DOJ report, the DOTr is included in the list of government agencies that is allegedly involved in corruption.

Other agencies include the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the Bureau of Customs (BOC), the Department of Health (DOH), and the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).

The Anti-Corruption Task Force is currently evaluating reports filed regarding corruption complaints in various government offices. — AAC (from the report of Dante Amento)

NBI to probe killing of Manila RTC judge

Robie de Guzman   •   November 13, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Friday said it has ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to look into the case of a Manila court judge who was killed inside her office last Wednesday.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the NBI will probe “all possible angles and motives” and “make recommendations to the supreme court on improving security measures in all halls of justice, court rooms, and premises.”

Judge Maria Teresa Abadilla of the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 45 was shot inside her chamber by her clerk of court, Atty. Amador Rebato, who allegedly shot himself during the incident.

She was rushed to a hospital but was declared dead.

“Though Judge Abadilla’s death appears to have arisen from an internal issue with her clerk of court, I have, nonetheless, directed the NBI to conduct a parallel probe considering that the incident has implications on the personal security of our judges and justices,” Guevarra said in a message to reporters.

The Supreme Court, meanwhile, welcomed Guevarra’s move.

“Pwede naman talaga investigate yung NBI because a crime has been committed. But we are also investigating and reviewing court policies,” Court Administrator Midas Marquez said.

He added that Supreme Court Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta has ordered the implementation of stricter measures to prevent similar incidents from occurring.

“The passing of Judge Abadilla is indeed a big loss to the judiciary because I personally know her to be an upright and highly competent magistrate,” Peralta said in a statement on Wednesday. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Dante Amento

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