'Composite' teams have 30 days for further investigation into PhilHealth corruption
Composite teams formed by "Task Force PhilHealth" are conducting a deeper probe into the state insurer.
The STAR/file

'Composite' teams have 30 days for further investigation into PhilHealth corruption

Kristine Joy Patag (Philstar.com) - September 16, 2020 - 1:19pm

MANILA, Philippines — The composite teams conducting deeper probe into corruption allegations surrounding the Philippine Health Insurance (PhilHealth) Corp. will take another 30 days, the Department of Justice said Wednesday.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said that they will ask the composite teams to finish their investigations into PhilHealth’s IT and legal sectors in 30 days. “Then we’ll prepare the complaints if there’s enough evidentiary basis,” he added.

This new deadline will start when newly appointed PhilHealth CEO and President Dante Gierran, formerly head of the National Bureau of Investigation, assumes his post. Guevarra said Gierran will take his oath on Wednesday.

The composite teams will have members from DOJ, National Bureau of Investigation, Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission, Anti-Money Laundering Council and Office of the Special Assistant to the President.

The DOJ Office of Cybercrime will investigate PhilHealth’s IT sector, while OSAP will join probe into the legal sector.

READ: DOJ: PhilHealth exec says current IT system cannot detect fraudulent claims 

Task Force report

The Guevarra-led “Task Force PhilHealth” handed in its report, bearing its initial findings, to President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night.

Duterte approved the panel’s recommendations including filing of complaints against key officers of the state insurer. Criminal and administrative raps will be filed against former PhilHealth chief Ricardo Morales, Health Secretary Francisco Duque and even former Senior Vice President for legal Rodolfo Del Rosario were spared from the list of liable officials.

In an interview with DZBB, DOJ Undersecretary Markk Perete said the investigation into Del Rosario, who quit his post amid the probe, is still continuing.

RELATED: DOJ flags 'low, slow' prosecution rate of PhilHealth legal division

“In our recommendation, the only reason why the legal sector was not included is due to the continuing investigation there. That would explain why there is no recommendation so far as Mr. Del Rosario is concerned at the moment,” Perete, also DOJ’s spokesperson, said in a mix of English and Filipino.

The task force earlier flagged the slow and low prosecution rate of PhilHealth’s legal sector. Part of its report to Duterte also noted that there were cases involving fictitious crediting of remittances where contributions were diverted to a private account or to an undisclosed account—but no criminal complaint was filed.

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

Just a warning for Duque?

Guevarra earlier stressed that more people may face complaints when the investigation by composite teams wraps up, and this may include Duque, who sits as PhilHealth’s chairman by virtue of his position.

Malacañang has also maintained that more complaints may be filed, even if Duterte has virtually cleared Duque of the PhilHealth mess in his past speeches.

RELATED: 'I have full trust in you': Duterte again backs Duque against critics, corruption allegations

Perete explained that while the task force found the board of directors committed negligence, filing a violation under the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act requires a higher degree of negligence or involvement.

“Initially we have filing for negligence that does not rise to the level of gross negligence but this early, we included it in the report and we said in our recommendations that the president strongly admonish the board,” he added.

“The warning is based on our initial evaluation and initial documents. If evidence later on indicates that their negligence is inexcusable or gross then necessary charges that we were saying would be filed against them,” Perete also said.

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