Duterte wants filing of cases vs PhilHealth execs expedited

Alexis Romero - Philstar.com
Duterte wants filing of cases vs PhilHealth execs expedited
Filipinos express disappointment over the embattled Philippine Health Insurance Corp.
The STAR / Michael Varcas, File photo

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte wants to fast-track the filing of cases against officials tagged in the alleged anomalies in the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth), which is said to have lost billions in funds to fraudulent schemes.  

Duterte, who has vowed to use his remaining months in office to cleanse the state-run insurer of corruption, believes delays in the legal process will work against the complainants.

"We just want to expedite and cut the delay because that is really...the strategy of a lawyer to prolong the case until such time na ‘yung complainant nawalan ng hangin (that the complainant runs out of air)," the President said during his televised public address last Monday.

Duterte thanked Ombudsman Samuel Martires for helping the multiagency task force that probed the alleged irregularities in PhilHealth. Martires, a former Supreme Court associate justice, was appointed ombudsman in 2018.

"The PhilHealth issue is different because the government is interested in it... It’s a very commendable act of the ombudsman in trying to go out and help. That's what we got. Thanks to you. It was difficult. I do not even know him. I do not know him but we got such a reception from him. It’s a matter of human niceties," Duterte said.

"We need that kind of I said relationship with the ombudsman... And with his help, we can really expedite," he added.

Duterte expressed hope that the good relationship between the executive branch and the ombudsman would continue.

"If you would notice the fact that at no other time, the rapport between the ombudsman and the executive department has been this good and it’s... a matter of human relations, how you present the problem and try to ask (for) his help," the President said.

"I find Martires as a very reasonable man. When details of the PhilHealth controversy came out, I said, well, I think he (Martires) is really also trying his best to help us. If that's the situation, we are better off at least for now," he added.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Duterte is confident that Martires would file cases against the PhilHealth officials accused of anomalies.

"If you compare it with the Task Force PhilHealth, which came up with a recommendation after a month, of course the process of the ombudsman would take longer. But the President believes Ombudsman Martires will eventually file the corresponding charges against those who should be punished," Roque said at a press briefing yesterday.

"He really wants to expedite it because he wants the corrupt officials in PhilHealth to land in jail," he added.

Last week, a task force led by the justice department recommended the filing of criminal and administrative charges against former PhilHealth president Ricardo Morales and other officials of the health insurer for allegedly violating the anti-graft law, the revised penal code, and the internal revenue code.

It also recommended that Health Secretary Franciso Duque III, who also serves as chairman of PhilHealth, and members of the health insurer's board be admonished due to the "grave consequence of their action or inaction to Philhealth funds, to the government and its coffers and to the interest of the ordinary people who rely on the PhilHealth system."

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