‘If he has data, file the case’ —PhilHealth chief on Roque’s corruption allegation

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 18, 2020   •   481

The Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) President Ricardo Morales has called on Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque to show proof of corruption in the agency.

“Matagal na iyang vendetta against some people dito sa Philhealth (His vendetta against some people here in PhilHealth had been going on for a while now). If he has some data, file the case. What’s keeping him?” he said.

Morales also reiterated there is no truth in Roque’s statement on alleged irregularities in PhilHealth. Roque also called out PhilHealth’s ‘inaction’ to address the said irregularities.

“Ang inaasahan natin mag-iimbestiga, magtatanggal, magpaparusa, pero wala po tayong nakitang ganyang ginawa si General Morales (What we expect are investigation and punishment, but we have not seen those done by General Morales),” Roque said during a press briefing.

Morales said they already took action on the complaints against the 20 PhilHealth officials and employees who are allegedly involved in corruption. –AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

Lacson, Sotto to Duterte: Don’t resign, just apply anti-graft laws to both friends, foes

Robie de Guzman   •   September 29, 2020

MANILA, Phillippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson on Tuesday said that President Rodrigo Duterte should just implement the anti-graft laws to all violators instead of resigning if he wants to end corruption in the government.

READ: Duterte admits offering to resign over endless corruption in government

“Instead of resigning, the President only needs to be consistent in applying the anti-graft and corruption laws to both friends and foes,” Lacson said in a statement.

Lacson issued the statement after Duterte said he has offered to step down from office out of frustration over the rampant corruption in the country.

“Ewan ko kung sabihin ko ito sa inyo. I offered to resign as president. Pinatawag ko yung lahat, sabi ko, ‘Kasi nagsasawa na ako. In my years of government […] talagang wala na katapusan itong korupsyon. Mahirap talaga pigilin,” Duterte said during his public address late Monday night.

The president’s remarks follows on the heels of fresh allegations of irregularities in the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).

Duterte earlier promised to fire officials over just “a whiff” of corruption.

“Strong words and warnings may work, but only when backed by political will and followed by concrete actions. There is no better way,” Lacson said.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III also said that it is the corrupt officials who should be resigning and not Duterte.

“Dapat ‘yung mga corrupt sa gobyerno makaisip noon, hindi siya. He was elected by the country, he cannot turn his back on the specified task by the Filipinos! I don’t think he means it,” Sotto said in a message to reporters.

As for Duterte’s offer to appear before a Congressional hearing to tackle corruption, Lacson said it may not be necessary.

“In fact, the Senate is already proposing in a bill to give him Bayanihan-like powers to address red tape in government,” he said.

Lacson was referring to Senate Bill 1844 which seeks to authorize the president to expedite the issuance of national and local permits and licenses in times of national emergency to address corruption and red tape in the government. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

Duterte admits offering to resign over endless corruption in government

Marje Pelayo   •   September 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has mentioned more than once in the past, wanting to step down from his post due to massive corruption in government.

He repeated himself on Monday evening (September 28) during his late night public address.

“I offered to resign as president. Ipinatawag ko ang lahat. Sabi ko, ‘Kasi nagsasawa na ako. In my years of government, talagang wala na katapusan itong korupsyon. Mahirap talaga pigilin (I called everyone and said, “I am getting tired of it. In my years of government service, corruption is endless. It’s very difficult to eradicate),” the President said.

Specifically, the President expressed deep dismay over corruption and irregularities in the management of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).

He said he is keen on proposing to Congress to dissolve the state insurance agency as he admits privatizing it cannot be an option. 

PhilHealth, I am going to propose to Congress to abolish [it]. Kung i-privatize mo naman, walang pera (If it will be privatized, there is no money), he said.

PhilHealth is facing a big revamp or reorganization among its officials and employees following a series of hearings and investigations on the anomalies within the agency.

Meanwhile, the President defended the government’s move to sell several state properties. He cited the need to raise funds to support the health sector’s COVID-19 pandemic preparedness and response plan.

“That is why we are selling properties. That’s the reason why we are selling real estate properties in Japan — because we have to raise money,” he said.

Wala nang pambayad diyan sa PhilHealth na iyan. Kaya walang ibang remedy diyan (There is no more money to pay for PhilHealth. There are no other remedies). It must be a surgical move,” he said. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Roque questions court order to release Pemberton

Robie de Guzman   •   September 3, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque has questioned a local court’s decision to grant the appeal of US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton for an early release through good conduct time allowance (GCTA) credits.

Roque, who was the former private legal counsel of Filipino transgender Jennifer Laude’s family, said the Bureau of Corrections, which has the authority to grant GCTA credits, did not recommend any allowance for good conduct for Pemberton.

“Yung ginawa po ni Judge na siya na ang nagdesisyon kung paano siya bibigyan ng credit for good conduct is an instance of judicial overreach,” he said.

The Olongapo City Regional Trial Court Branch 74 in an order dated September 1 said Pemberton should be released over good behavior.

Pemberton was sentenced six to 10 years in prison for homicide over the slay of Laude at a motel in Olongapo City in 2014. He has been held at a facility in Camp Aguinaldo pursuant to provisions of the Visiting Forces Agreement between the United States and the Philippines.

The court credited to him a good conduct time allowance (GCTA) of 1,548 days or more than 4 years plus a total of 2,142 days in detention which amounts to more than 10 years of the maximum penalty imposed on him.

The Palace official said that the court’s decision on Pemberton’s release is unjust.

“Very bad po, kasi parang pinapakita na di mahalaga ang buhay ng Pilipino. 5 taon lang sa ginuntuang hawla ang pwedeng maging parusa. Huwag naman po,” he said.

He also denied the claim of Pemberton’s lawyer that he and Laude’s family agreed to release the convicted American soldier on parole.

Roque added that the motion for reconsideration filed by Laude’s family should be resolved first, as well as the appeal that will be lodged by the government’s prosecutors.

The Department of Justice said it has directed the Bureau of Corrections to wait for the court’s resolution on the Laude family’s motion for reconsideration. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

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