Lacson sees conflict of interest on presence of Sec Duque in Philhealth Board

Maris Federez   •   June 19, 2019   •   1631

Senator Panfilo Lacson (L) and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III (R)

Senator Panfilo Lacson reveals having possession of several documents that will prove of the seeming conflict of interest with Health Secretary Francisco Duque III sitting in as head of the Philhealth Board.

Lacson made the revelation amid the corruption issues haunting the government health insurance body.

He said, based on the copy of a contract of lease in his possession, the regional office that Philhealth is renting in Dagupan City is owned by Duque’s family.

“If this is not conflict of interest, I don’t know what is. Building mo, naka-contract of lease ka and that is a family corporation,” Lacson said.

He added that he also found out some more modus operandi happening inside Philhealth.

“There’s another modus operandi kung saan yung hospital mismo in cahoots with PhilHealth. Nagbibigay ng report extending confinement of patients na nadischarge na,” he added.

The senator said he is worried of what could possibly happen to the billions of pesos that is allotted as a fund for the Universal Health Care program with Duque at the helm of Philhealth.

Lacson said he will call for an investigation regarding the said issue once the 18th Congress officially opens in July. (with reports from Nel Maribojoc) /mbmf

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)

Duque not yet cleared from PhilHealth mess – Palace

Marje Pelayo   •   September 15, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice (DOJ) Task Force PhilHealth may have finished its probe into the alleged irregularities within the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) but Malacañang said the matter is not yet over for Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.

According to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, Duque is not yet cleared from the controversy even after President Rodrigo Duterte named some officials of the state insurer who he ordered to file administrative and criminal charges against. 

To the surprise of many, Duque was not in the list. 

Task Force PhilHealth recommended to the President to admonish the officials of the agency from the chairman down to the members of the board for their actions and inactions on matters concerning the funds of PhilHealth.

Roque stressed that investigation on PhilHealth issue is far from over.

“This is only the beginning,” Roque said.

“Nakasaad din po sa report na magpapatuloy po ang imbestigasyon ng NBI at ng DOJ, at magpapatuloy pa rin po ang imbestigasyon ng Ombudsman [The report also stated that the investigation of NBI and the DOJ will continue as well as of the Ombudsman],” he added.

Among the issues that still need to be investigated include the alleged negligence concerning the ratification of the Interim Reimbursement Mechanism (IRM) of the agency; the alleged overpriced ICT procurement deal; and the agency’s failure to investigate and prosecute those who are involved in corrupt practices.

Roque revealed that aside from Duque, there are also some members of the Cabinet who are ex-officio members of PhilHealth’s Board of Directors.

He further said that one more thing to look into is the concealment of records by some members of the executive committee from the members of the board of directors. 

“Kinakailangan pagsabihan ang chairman at ang members of the board including ang five members of the Cabinet na kinakailangang mas matindi ang kanilang pagbabantay sa pondo ng kabang bayan nang hindi po nawawala sa ganitong paraan [We must remind the chairman and the members of the board, including the five members of the Cabinet, that there is a need to strictly safeguard the national budget so we will not lose it like this],” Roque stressed. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte to respect findings of Task Force PhilHealth – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   September 14, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte will respect the findings of the task force he created to probe the allegations of corruption hounding the Philippine Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), Malacañang said Monday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the task force was given fact-finding powers and he believes that the president will accept its probe results.

“Binigyan nga po niya ng kapangyarihan na maging fact-finding yung task force na binuo niya, and I think dahil siya naman po ang bumuo niyan, he will accept the factual-finding of his own task force,” he said.

The task force, which was formed in early August and headed by Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, submitted to the chief executive its report on fraud and allegations against PhilHealth executives on Monday, Sept 14.

In a statement, Guevarra said the outcome of their 30-day investigation will “attempt to present the general environment at PhilHealth which enables fraud and corruption,” as well as the specific instances where fraudulent or corrupt acts have been perpetrated.

However, he did not divulge any details of the report or name of those they would recommend to be charged.

The task force last week concluded its hearings on the alleged anomalies within PhilHealth after interviewing several witnesses and resource persons, and gathered some documents. It also used the transcripts of records provided by Senate and House of Representatives panels that conducted separate investigation into the PhilHealth mess.

Its probe included the alleged inability of PhilHealth’s IT systems to detect fraudulent claims, and the thousands of cases against erring agency employees and healthcare institutions that have remained unfiled.

Although the task force has already concluded its probe, Guevarra said investigations and special audits on PhilHealth transactions will continue.

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

Task Force PhilHealth is a multi-agency team composed of representatives from the Office of the Ombudsman, Commission on Audit, Civil Service Commission and the Office of the President, Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission, Office of the Special Assistant to the President, Anti-Money Laundering Council, National Bureau of Investigation and the National Prosecution Service. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Dante Amento)

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