Duterte wants probe on alleged PhilHealth anomaly

Marje Pelayo   •   July 24, 2020   •   532

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte wants an immediate investigation on the reported corruption inside the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque confirmed that the matter has come to the attention of the President, thus he ordered concerned authorities to investigate particularly the P2B-worth of “overpriced” IT purchases.

“Nag-i-imbestiga na po ang kinauukulan, pinakinggan po ang lahat at ang naging conclusion ay isang maigting na imbestigasyon ang gagawin, at least dito sa isyu ng IT purchase (All concerned are already investigating. Everyone involved has been heard and the conclusion was to conduct a thorough investigation, at least on the issue of IT purchases,” Roque said. 

Also, Roque encouraged Thorrsson Montes Keith who resigned from his position as the agency’s anti-fraud legal officer due to alleged irregularities in PhilHealth, to cooperate in the investigation. 

“Ang aking conclusion diyan talaga may sindikato talaga at ito po iyong pinakamatataas na career executives diyan sa PhilHealth (My conclusion to that is that there is a syndicate [in the agency] and they are the high-ranking career executives),” Roque said. 

PhilHealth president, retired General Ricardo Morales, for his part, denies allegations of corruption within the agency.

He even dared Keith to present his evidence to prove his claims. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte commends Ombudsman’s efforts in PhilHealth probe

Marje Pelayo   •   September 22, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has nothing but praises for the Office of the Ombudsman on its investigation on the irregularities inside the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).

In the duration of the probe, Ombudsman Samuel Martires suspended for six months 13 officials of the embattled agency.

The president said the relationship between the executive branch and the ombudsman has improved a lot.

“No other time na ang rapport ng Ombudsman sa Executive department ay maganda ang samahan. [There’s no other time that the rapport between the Ombudsman and the Executive department is smooth.] It’s a matter of human relations. How you present the problem. And I find Martires, a very reasonable man,” the President said. 

He said he also understands Ombudsman Martires’ desire to finally end the controversies in PhilHealth.

“Iyong (pinalabas) ng PhilHealth, sunod-sunod. Sabi ko, I think he’s trying his best to help us. Kung ganoon ang sitwasyon, at least we’re better off. At least, for now,” President Duterte said. -MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte to announce final decision on reduced physical distancing in public transport

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 16, 2020

President Rodrigo Duterte will make his final decision on Thursday (September 17) regarding the reduction of physical distancing in public transportation.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said doctors have opposing opinions on the matter and added that last meeting of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) Against COVID-19 even took six hours discussing the issue.

“Ang mga doctor iba-iba rin po ang mga pananaw. Wala pong isang opinyon pagdating dito sa pagbawas ng isang dangkal lang naman na social distancing sa pampublikong mga transportation (Our doctors have varying opinions. There is no unified opinion when it comes to social distancing in public transportation),” he said on Wednesday (September 16) during a press briefing.

Roque also said the IATF based their recommendation to reduce physical distancing on research and advice from doctors.

“Ang rekomendasyon po ay isusumite kay Preisdente. Si Presidente na po ang magde-decide (The recommendation has been submitted to the President and he will be the one to decide), Roque said. AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte approves filing of cases against Morales, et al

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 15, 2020

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)

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