Composite teams given 30 days to further probe PhilHealth mess – DOJ
Robie de Guzman • September 16, 2020 • 259
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)
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice (DOJ) assured it will render this week a legal opinion on the memorandum of agreement (MOA) signed between the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) and state insurer Philippine Health Insurance Corp. for the conduct of COVID-19 tests.
“The DOJ is reviewing the MOA between the Philippine Red Cross and PhilHealth and will render an opinion within the week,” Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said in a message to reporters.
“We’re giving this our preferential attention,” he added.
Guevarra said the review is in response to the request of PhilHealth President and CEO Dante Gierran.
PhilHealth and PRC entered into a deal in May this year for the conduct of COVID-19 tests which will be charged to the state insurer.
The Red Cross, however, suspended the testing last week due to PhilHealth’s mounting debts.
President Rodrigo Duterte himself, in a televised speech Monday, assured to pay off the P930 million debt of PhilHealth to the PRC.
Meanwhile, PhilHealth spokesperson Rey Baleña reiterated that the agency has the funds to pay its obligations to the PRC.
The state insurer, however, wants to thresh out some issues on how to move forward with its partnership with Red Cross to ensure that members’ funds are properly handled and disbursed.
“Nais lamang nito na makatiyak na ang lahat ay nasa ayos bilang bahagi ng pangangalaga sa pondo ng mga miyembro,” Baleña said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Vincent Arboleda)
The Anti-Terrorism Council has approved the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Republic Act 11479 or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, according to Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra.
Guevarra said they will provide Congress and law enforcement agencies copies of the IRR. They will also release a copy online and in other publications.
“We will disseminate copies to Congress and to law enforcement agencies as required under the law, and will publish the IRR online and in a newspaper of general circulation in the next few days,” he added.
President Rodrigo Duterte signed the law last July 3 which repeals the Human Security Act of 2007.
The DOJ started drafting the IRR of the law last August.
Meanwhile, there are currently 30 petitions filed before the Supreme Court requesting to halt the implementation of the Anti-Terrorism Law questioning its constitutionality.
The Office of the Solicitor General, however, has already asked the high tribunal to dismiss the petitions. -AAC (with reports from Dante Amento)
MANILA, Philippines – Tensions remain high between prison gang members at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) following Friday’s riot that left at least several inmates dead, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said.
In a statement, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the situation at the NBP is still tense but the violence has been contained with the help of the police and prison authorities.
“There were intelligence reports that one group was amassing to strike back at the rival group,” Guevarra said in a message to reporters.
At least nine inmates who are members of the rival Sputnik ang Commando Gangs were killed in a brawl that broke out before dawn Friday in one quadrant of NBP’s maximum security compound.
Guevarra said he has yet to get an update from the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) on the situation.
BuCor director general Gerald Bantag earlier said an investigation into the cause of the incident is underway.
The National Bureau of Investigation was also directed to conduct a separate investigation and file charges against anyone involved in the riot. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Dante Amento)
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