Duque may yet face raps over PhilHealth mess, Lacson says
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Duque may yet face raps over PhilHealth mess, Lacson says

Christian Deiparine (Philstar.com) - October 4, 2020 - 2:46pm

MANILA, Philippines — The multi-agency Task Force PhilHealth's probe into allegations of corruption at the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. was not lacking,  Sen. Panfilo Lacson said Sunday,  hinting more officials may be facing raps soon.

Speaking to DZBB, Lacson said Senate President Vicente Sotto III had inside information from the task force saying evidence will soon reach Duque and resigned PhilHealth official Rodolfo del Rosario. 

"Senate President Sotto shared to me that there is evidence pointing to Secretary Duque," Lacson said in Filipino. "It would be better to wait for that instead of saying some were lacking in DOJ's recommendations."

President Rodrigo Duterte formed the body in August, which is led by the Justice department, to probe allegations of corruption at the Philippine Health Insurance Corp, including allegations of P15 billion in anomalous transactions. 

The embattled health chief, already facing mounting criticisms for the Department of Health's handling of the coronavirus crisis in the country, was not included in the task force's initial list of people against whom complaints would be filed. The task force, though, recommended that President Rodrigo Duterte "strongly admonish" Duque and other members of the PhilHealth board.

READ: Duterte OKs raps vs ex-PhilHealth chief Morales, other senior officers

Senate recommends raps vs Duque

The Senate in a report of the Committee of the Whole recommended charges against Duque and ex-PhilHealth president and CEO Ricardo Morales.

Morales is among those the task force recommended to be sued in its report submitted to President Duterte. 

"Perhaps they (Duque and del Rosario) will be included in the second phase of the investigation because the task force said they will continue their probe," the lawmaker added.

Duque was tagged as the "godfather" of the alleged mafia in PhilHealth by whistleblower Thorrsson Montes Keith, a former anti-fraud officer in the agency. 

The health chief had since denied this, including other allegations that he had a hand in the corruption in PhilHealth. 

Duterte has repeatedly backed Duque from one controversy to another, even as senators repeatedly called for his replacement. 

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

Lacson said senators are keeping their options open should Duque be spared again, such as filing cases directly at the Office of the Ombudsman. 

"We can initiate the filing of cases for people not included by the task force. There is nothing preventing us from running to the Ombudsman as a body," he said. 

The president has floated the idea of abolishing PhilHealth, something not supported by its newly installed chief Dante Gierran who said it might send the wrong message. 

Gierran has since asked high ranking officials of the agency to turn in their courtesy resignations. 

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