More PhilHealth raps filed within 30 days
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said yesterday they were just waiting for new PhilHealth president and chief executive officer (CEO) Dante Gierran to take his oath and assume his new position before the composite teams are sent to conduct a deeper probe.
STAR/ File
More PhilHealth raps filed within 30 days
Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star) - September 17, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Another round of complaints face those involved in the alleged anomalies in the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. when two composite teams of Task Force PhilHealth submit their reports on the legal and information and technology (IT) sectors within 30 days.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said yesterday they were just waiting for new PhilHealth president and chief executive officer (CEO) Dante Gierran to take his oath and assume his new position before the composite teams are sent to conduct a deeper probe.

Gierran is expected to assume his post within the week, replacing Ricardo Morales, who is among those accused of corruption.

Morales’ lawyers, led by Arnedo Valera and Renato Pineda, said their client “denies any wrongdoing” and “enjoys the presumption of innocence.”

Once they have submitted their reports to the Department of Justice (DOJ), the agency tapped by President Duterte to lead TF PhilHealth, they would assess the teams’ reports and determine if additional complaints can be filed against other PhilHealth officials.

“We’ll ask the composite teams to finish their investigations on the IT and legal sectors… Then we’ll prepare the complaints if there’s enough evidentiary basis,” said Guevarra.

Each composite team would have representatives from the DOJ, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) and the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).

The fifth member for the IT composite team would come from the DOJ’s Office of Cybercrime (OOC), while the Office of the Special Assistant to the President (OSAP) would become the fifth member to complete the legal composite team.

DOJ spokesman Markk Perete also reiterated that since they have not completed their investigation, it cannot yet be completely ruled out that Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III, who is also the PhilHealth board chairman, and PhilHealth senior vice president for legal sector Rodolfo del Rosario Jr. would be included in the charges.

“We are still continuing our investigation if the evidence that we would be able to unearth and discover would show that they have any liability just like the others, the commensurate complaints would have to be filed against them. We would be guided by the evidence,” he said.

At the moment, TF PhilHealth found that there was “negligence” on the part of the PhilHealth board, but the requirement under the Graft and Corrupt Practices Act is that there should be “gross negligence.”

In their initial report to President Duterte, TF PhilHealth recommended that he strongly admonish the PhilHealth board and remind Duque and the board members of the “grave consequences of their action.”

They also recommended the filing of complaints against seven high-ranking officials of PhilHealth.

Never negligent

Duque yesterday maintained he was never negligent in his duties as chairman of PhilHealth.

Duque issued the statement when asked to comment on the recommendation of the DOJ that he be “strongly admonished” for the reported misdeeds of some PhilHealth officials.

Lawmakers have criticized the findings of the DOJ’s special task force after Duque was not included in the list of those recommended for criminal charges.

“I did not neglect my duties and responsibilities as chairman of the board. It’s just that really the President has declared a state of public emergency in February and I have been chair by way of executive order,” he said during a press conference in Camp Crame, Quezon City.

As the country’s top health official, Duque is leading efforts to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. He has been criticized for his allegedly not responding in time to prevent the virus from spreading.

He explained that the PhilHealth board is a collegial body, thus he is not the only one making decisions. – Emmanuel Tupas, Sheila Crisostomo

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