Duterte to identify less than 10 officials behind alleged PCSO corruption – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   August 2, 2019   •   1261

President Rodrigo Duterte | PCOO

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is set to identify less than 10 officials allegedly involved in the “massive corruption” in the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), a Malacañang official said on Thursday.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the President mentioned this during a speech at the joint anniversary celebration of the National Security Council and the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency on Wednesday night.

However, Panelo said the chief executive did not elaborate on the issue, adding that the public should just wait for further announcements.

This comes after Duterte ordered the immediate suspension of all PCSO gaming operations over the supposed corruption in the agency. More than 30,000 gaming outlets were shut down over the weekend following his order.

On Tuesday, the president lifted the halt of lotto operations but suspension on small-town lottery (STL), Keno and Peryahan ng Bayan operations remain until the investigation has been concluded.

Presidential Anti-Corruption Commissioner Greco Belgica, meanwhile, said investigation is underway on PCSO officials linked to corruption including the agency’s former general manager Alexander Balutan.

Belgica added that PCSO officials will also be subjected to lifestyle checks.

“No one (is) exempted, no one will be spared from the top down,” he said. (with details from Rosalie Coz)

PACC to file raps against 36 PhilHealth execs

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 6, 2020

The Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) is set to file raps against 36 Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) officials next week amid the mass corruption issue in the agency.

According to PACC Commissioner Greco Belgica, they are preparing to file administrative charges and has recommended the dismissal of said officials. Belgica, meanwhile, did not identify the names of the involved officials.

Ipapasa na po namin sa Ombudsman next week, those cases na we believe are airtight cases na. Mga naimbestigahan na namin. Definitely po madadagdagan pa iyan as the investigation proceeds (Those we believe are airtight cases, we will submit it to the [Office of the Ombudsman] next week. There will definitely be more cases as the investigation proceeds),” he said.

Belgica claims that PhilHealth’s poor IT System had given way to corrupt officials to do anomalous activities. He also said corruption is done in various regions across the country which is similar to the ‘Pork Barrel Scam’ system.

So every region na nagta-transact ang mga ospital in different places, doon nagkakaroon ng areglo, doon nagkakaroon ng connivance. Ang bulk ng pera ng PhilHealth na nawawala, doon lumalabas (So in every region where hospitals do their transactions that’s where connivance happens. The bulk of PhilHealth’s money goes there),” he said.

Meanwhile, the PACC and Senator Christopher ‘Bong’ Go recommended to President Rodrigo Duterte to form a task force that will head the investigation on the PhilHealth corruption allegations.

PhilHealth has already denied the allegations saying the claims have no proper basis or evidence. -AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

Top PhilHealth official resigns amid corruption allegations in the agency

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 6, 2020

A high-ranking executive in PhilHealth has resigned amid the corruption allegations hounding the agency.

Senator Vicente Sotto III confirmed on Thursday (August 6) that they received the resignation letter of PhilHealth Senior Vice President Augustus de Villa.

De Villa is among the PhilHealth officials who were questioned during the Senate hearing on Tuesday (August 4) over the alleged corruption in the state pension fund.

De Villa did not mention the reason for his resignation but assured his cooperation in the investigation regarding the purported mass corruption in PhilHealth.

“The Vice-Chairman knows fully well the reason. I briefed him earlier today in his residence in Taguig City,” De Villa said in his resignation letter. AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

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Cayetano suggests hiring financial forensic experts to investigate corruptions in gov’t agencies

Marje Pelayo   •   August 6, 2020

MANILA, Philippines –  House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano suggests hiring of financial forensic experts to help investigate irregularities in government transactions and to hold accountable any official involved in corruption. 

Dahil pagdating sa paper trail na at sa white collar na type of crimes, what we need is not the street type of investigators pero yun nga yung mga forensic, financial forensic,” Cayetano said.

[Because when it comes to the paper trail and white-collar type of crimes, what we need is not the street type of investigators but those who are financial forensics.]

This was his proposal in relation to the Senate and the House of Representatives’ hearing on the alleged corruption inside the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).

“I’m a little bit concerned that if it can happen to PhilHealth, what about the other government financial institutions who obviously get billions or hundreds of billions in budget. We have to have an effective watchdog,” the House Speaker noted.

Cayetano assures the support of Congress when it comes to the budget that will be needed should the Commision on Audit (COA) and the Philippine Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) decide to hire such experts.

The said financial forensic experts will not concentrate on PhilHealth alone but to other agencies and departments in the government.

Marikina Representative Stella Quimbo, meanwhile, expressed her agreement to Cayetano’s proposal saying these experts will be a big help in scrutinizing important documents that can be used as evidence to unveil widespread corruption in a specific government agency. 

“Agree po fully kay Speaker. Importanteng malaman ang [I fully agree with the Speaker. It’s important that we determine the] extent and patterns of fraud through the financial records,” she explained.

“This will facilitate investigation and evidence gathering in a systemic way. Otherwise, piecemeal ang approach. The financial forensics will show kung talamak ang fraud,” she added.

READ: Duterte wants probe on alleged PhilHealth anomaly

State insurer PhilHealth is currently in hot water after reports of alleged corruption among its executives particularly the ‘overpriced’ IT equipment and projects. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

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