Duterte approves filing of cases against Morales, et al

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 15, 2020   •   363

President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the filing of charges against former Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) CEO Ricardo Morales and other officials allegedly involved in the ‘mass corruption’ inside the agency.

“The issue of PhilHealth corruption was really an important issue to the Filipinos and to everybody. And everybody again is also placed in jeopardy by the actions of the officials,” the President said.

“I’m sorry for them but you have to undergo trial. Although they can always prove their guilt beyond reasonable doubt. The presumption of innocence still attaches but the report of another agency says otherwise. So ganun ang nangyari sa PhilHealth. Halos lahat sa board,” he added.

Based on the investigation of Task Force PhilHealth, several officials have violations of withholding taxes regarding the interim reimbursement mechanism, graft, and malversion. They will also be facing charges for dishonesty, grave misconduct, disloyalty, gross neglect of duty, inefficiency and incompetence, as well as falsification of public documents.

The officials who will be facing the said charges aside from Morales are Senior Vice President Renato Limsiaco Jr., Senior Vice President Jovita Aragona, Officer-in-Charge Calixto Gabuya Jr., Senior Vice President Israel Pargas, Executive Vice President and COO Arnel De Jesus, and Division Chief Bobby Crisostomo.

Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra, who is also leading the Task Force PhilHealth, said they are still continuing their investigation.

“Our composite teams will continue their ongoing investigations and special audits and file legal actions as they finish one case after another,” he said in a statement.

Meanwhile, PhilHealth released a statement saying the involved officials are prepared to follow the President’s mandate and will cooperate in the process. AAC (with reports from Dante Amento)

Indemnification package for severe COVID-19 side effects to be released this month — PhilHealth

Robie de Guzman   •   May 7, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), on Friday, announced that the indemnification package for individuals who will experience adverse effects following COVID-19 vaccination will be released soon.

During the Laging Handa briefing, PhilHealth Vice President for Corporate Affairs Shirley Domingo said the indemnification package may be released within this month after the PhilHealth Board approved its guidelines.

She, however, said that the funding requirement for this package is still being finalized.

“Iyong inaayos lang po natin ay iyong funding po nito. Kasi under the law, we are supposed to be provided with 500 million pesos, iyong trust specifically for this purpose,” she said.

Republic Act 11525 or the COVID-19 Vaccination Program Act of 2021 provided P500 million for the COVID-19 National Vaccine Immunity Fund.

The law, which was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on February 26, states that the benefits package will cover individuals who experienced serious adverse events following immunization that required hospitalization, and in case of permanent disability or death.

“Ito po iyong kung naturukan sila, na-vaccinate sila for COVID at nagkaroon sila ng serious adverse event ‘no, ibig sabihin may matinding side effect, serious adverse events, or kung ma-hospitalize sila or huwag naman sana pero kung may nabawian ng buhay dahil diyan, lahat po ito ay pasok doon sa benefit na iyon,” Domingo said.

The Philippines has so far administered over 2 million COVID-19 vaccine doses since the government rolled out its mass immunization in March.

Of this figure, a total of 1,744,649 people have already received their allocated first dose, while 320,586 have been given their second dose.

DILG to discuss with LGUs, PNP parameters of Duterte’s new order to arrest mask violators

Marje Pelayo   •   May 6, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday (May 5) ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) to arrest people who are not wearing their face mask properly in public.

President Duterte made the order during his pre-recorded address after noting that some people mindlessly don a face mask just so they can comply with the protocol.

“Itong mask, ‘yung iba, for compliance lang. Naglalagay ng mask pero nakalabas ‘yung ilong. I-detain mo tapos imbestigahan mo siya kung bakit ganoon ang behavior,“ he told the PNP adding that he has to be strict to curb COVID-19 transmission.

“Kapag hindi ko higpitan, walang mangyayari. Iyan nga, for compliance lang kayo,” he added.

In an interview following Duterte’s announcement, DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said they still have to discuss the new directive with the PNP.

“I think the President was serious. We will have to sit down with the Philippine National Police [..] to determine the parameters of the presidential directive. And we have to reconcile this with the various ordinances that were issued by the LGUs,” Malaya noted.

“I must emphasize that what people are violating here are local ordinances that were issued by the local sanggunian. We will take a look on how we can implement this directive of the President,” he added.

As for the quarantine violations, Malaya stressed that the IATF resolution is implemented through ordinances passed by the local government units. The penalty for a specific violation would depend on each LGU.

“So we may have to talk with the LGUs and of course the Philippine National Police,” Malaya said.

Malaya emphasized that it is the responsibility of the local chief executives and barangay officials to implement all minimum health standards in their respective jurisdictions.

Duterte on retaking West Philippine Sea: ‘I never promised the people I would’

Marje Pelayo   •   May 4, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte recalled his conversation with President Xi Jinping regarding the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

According to Duterte he asked the communist leader to just let Filipinos fish in the West Philippine Sea.

“I told China, it’s yours according to you, I’ve heard several times. But you also have heard of the fact that people are hungry. Ang Pilipino ay gutom (Filipinos are hungry) and you are not oblivious to that fact. So kindly just allow our fishermen to fish in peace,” he said.

The President said he is ready to talk with China should conflict arise over the disputed territory.

“There’s no reason for trouble. If there is one brewing, you call our attention and we can talk immediately to solve the problem,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Chief Executive said he never made a campaign promise to retake the WPS.

“I never, never in my campaign as president, promised the people that I would retake the West Philippine Sea. I did not promise that I would pressure China,” he said. “I never mentioned about China and the Philippines in my campaign because that was a very serious matter.”

But President Duterte stressed that he is ready to fight for the country’s sovereignty and he will not order a retreat of Philippine vessels patrolling in the area.

Reacting to Duterte’s statement, retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio reminded the former of  his statement during the presidential campaign about riding on a jetski to Scarborough Shoal and hoisting the Philippine flag there.

He also said Duterte had issued a statement fully supporting the arbitration case against China.

Thus, Carpio said, President Duterte cannot say that he never mentioned the West Philippine Sea issue or he would be admitting that he was fooling millions of Filipinos which, the former justice said, is tantamount to “grand estafa”.

“President Duterte cannot now say that he never discussed or mentioned the West Philippine Sea issue when he was campaigning for President. Otherwise, he would be admitting that he was fooling the Filipino people big time. There is a term for that–grand estafa or grand larceny. Making a false promise to get 16 million votes,” Carpio said.

For Senator Panfilo Lacson, it is necessary to revisit the Philippines’ diplomatic relations with China.

“Maybe a review of the country’s diplomatic relations is timely and called for. All the diplomatic protests that the Secretary of Foreign Affairs filed have been ignored as if nothing was filed at all. The continued incursions and bullying finally got his goat,” he said. MNP (with reports from Nel Maribojoc)

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