September 15 ------ Former Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) president Ricardo Morales and several top-ranking officials will be facing charges over alleged anomalies in the state corporation. President Duterte has approved the recommendations of the Department of Justice-led panel, that included filing of administrative and criminal complaints against PhilHealth officials in connection with the alleged irregular procurement of information technology equipment, Interim Reimbursement Mechanism (IRM) releases, among others.
The President read parts of the report submitted by the task force on the corruption probe in PhilHealth during his televised press briefing Monday night. “The issue of PhilHealth and corruption was really an important issue to the Filipinos and everybody again is also placed in jeopardy by the actions of the officials,” Duterte said. “I’m sorry for them but you have to undergo trial. Although they can always prove their guilt beyond reasonable doubt. The presumption of innocence still attaches but the report of other agencies say otherwise. So ganun ang nangyari sa PhilHealth. Halos lahat sa board,” he said.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque later announced that the President gave the green light to the recommendations of the task force. “Among those who will be charged criminally and administratively are: ex-president Morales, SVP (Jovita) Aragona, OIC (Calixto) Gabuya, SVP (Renato) Limsiaco (Jr.), SVP (Israel Francis) Pargas, COO (Arnel) De Jesus, Crisostomo, etc,” Roque said. In reading the report, the President said the task force gathered evidence showing “wrongful acts or omissions of certain key corporate officers of PhilHealth have committed.”
The task force recommended that “the President strongly admonished and reminded the chairman of the board and members of the board of 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.” It recommended pursuing criminal liability of the PhilHealth officials for alleged graft and malversation of public funds. The officials may also be held liable for violation of the national internal revenue code in connection with their alleged failure to withhold taxes on IRM releases.
The task force also recommended the filing of administrative complaints against certain PhilHealth officials for alleged “dishonesty, gross neglect of duty, grave misconduct, falsification of official documents, disloyalty to Republic of the Philippines and Filipinos, inefficiency and incompetence in the performance of official duty and/or conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.”
Last month, the President ordered the creation of a task force to look into the corruption allegations and other anomalies hounding PhilHealth. The panel, including the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission, National Bureau of Investigation, and Anti-Money Laundering Council, has been authorized to look into PhilHealth’s finances, conduct lifestyle checks, and impose preventive suspension of PhilHealth officials pending the probe. The President had earlier promised to send to jail PhilHealth officials who would be found involved in corruption.