DOJ on PhilHealth mess: Only initial findings out; more may face raps as probes continue
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte confers with Health Secretary Francisco Duque III during a meeting with members of the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) at the Matina Enclaves in Davao City on June 4, 2020.
Presidential Photo/Robinson Niñal Jr.
DOJ on PhilHealth mess: Only initial findings out; more may face raps as probes continue
Kristine Joy Patag (Philstar.com) - September 15, 2020 - 2:31pm

MANILA, Philippines — More people may face complaints as probes into Philippine Health Insurance Corp. continue, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said.

In the report submitted by the Guevarra-led task force, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III was spared from the officers of the state insurer, but the health chief is still not off the hook.

Asked on Duque’s non-inclusion on the list of officers the panel recommended to face complaints, Guevarra explained that the report submitted by the Task Force PhilHealth on Monday was based on initial findings only. “Further investigations will be conducted and more people may be charged,” he added.

The task force’s composite teams are pursuing deeper probe into specific acts of fraud in the state insurer, beyond the 30-day deadline given to the panel.

The Office of the Ombudsman, Commission on Audit and Commission on Civil Service attended the panel’s investigative hearings, but Guevarra explained that it was “for the purpose of pursuing their own independent investigations/audit.”

The Ombudsman also has the power to conduct investigations on its own.

READ: Cheat sheet on Task Force PhilHealth's fact-finding probe, complaints to be filed

Duque reprimand

In the 177-page undislosed report DOJ handed to the president on Monday, the panel recommended the filing of administrative and criminal complaints to key officers of the state insurer.

The highest official to face complaints is former PhilHealth CEO and President Ricardo Morales, who has since quit his post.

The task force did not recommend raps for Duque, chairman of PhilHealth by virtue of his position, but urged President Rodrigo Duterte to admonish him and other officers.

“The foregoing notwithstanding, the task force strongly admonish and remind the chairman and members of the board of a grave consequence of their action or inaction to PhilHealth fund to the government and its coffers and to the interest of the ordinary people who rely on PhilHealth assistance,” part of the undisclosed 177-page read.

Duque’s exclusion from the list of officers recommended to face complaints did not sit well with Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III. He was quoted in reports as saying: “No Duque? No Del Rosario? I’m dumbfounded! Article 217 of thee [Revised Penal Code] is very clear.”

Sotto was also referring to former PhilHealth Senior Vice President legal Rodolfo del Rosario who quit his post amid the investigation.

The said provision of the RPC is on malversation of public funds or property—a violation to be filed against several PhilHealth officers.

The Senate conducted a legislative probe into the agency and, in its own report which was considered in the task force's probe, recommended complaints against the health chief.

Reacting on the Senate report, Duque who last week aired his frustrations over the recommendation of filing of complaints, said lawmakers "made baseless findings on mere allegations."

READ: After Senate recommends charges vs PhilHealth execs, Duque calls probe findings 'baseless' | 'I have full trust in you': Duterte again backs Duque against critics, corruption allegations

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, for his part, said in an interview with CNN Philippines: “To me, I think what is lacking in both the Senate and in the DO reports, which frankly I have not read yet although I am only commenting on newspaper accounts, is the accountability on the members of the board itself.”

Aside from Morales, the task force recommended filing of  complaints against PhilHealth Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Arnel De Jesus, Senior Vice Presidents Jovita Aragona, Renato Limsiaco Jr., and Israel Francis Pargas; Officer-in-Charge Calixto Gabuya Jr. and Division Chief Bobby Crisostomo.

FRANCISCO DUQUE MENARDO GUEVARRA PHILHEALTH RALPH RECTO TITO SOTTO
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