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Palace: Duque has not yet been removed from responsibility for PhilHealth anomalies

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Secretary of Health Francisco Duque III has not yet been removed from liability for anomalies in the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) despite his exclusion from the list of officials facing administrative and criminal complaints.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the investigation into PhilHealth anomalies would continue even after the DOJ-led task force submitted its initial findings and recommendations to President Duterte.

Spokesman for President Harry Roque Jr.
(YANCY LIM / PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / Photography Photography / MANILA BULLETIN)

“This is only the beggining. The report also states that the investigation of NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) and DOJ (Department of Justice) will continue and the ombudsman investigation will continue (The report stated that the investigation of NBI and DOJ will continue. The ombudsman investigation will also go on) go on, ”Roque told a news conference on television.

“This is only preliminary given the very limited time period given to the working group to come up with recommendations,” he added.

On Monday, the President approved the task force recommendations for filing charges against former PhilHealth president Ricardo Morales and other senior officials over alleged anomalies in PhilHealth.

The task force recommended that relevant PhilHealth officials be held accountable for violations of the country’s anti-graft law, misuse of public funds, aggravated misconduct and gross negligence, inter alia, in connection with alleged irregularities in equipment procurement of information and communication technology and disbursement of the Temporary Reimbursement Mechanism (IRM).

Duque, chairman of the PhilHealth board, was not included in the list of people recommended for filing administrative and criminal violations.
Instead, the task force recommended to the President that he strongly advise and remind the chairman and board members of the “grave consequence of their action or inaction on the PhilHealth fund, on the government and its coffers, and on the interests of ordinary people who rely on the help of PhilHeath.

In the task force report, Roque said the board chairman and members allegedly displayed “negligence” on several occasions such as the careless approval of ICT procurement, their ratification of IRM Fund releases in March 2020, and consent to modify court trials- adjudicated cases.

But such negligence has been “somewhat mitigated” by the concealment of vital documents and information and the apparent misinterpretation by those who had sought board approval, Roque said.

“The task force said there was negligence on the part of the board chairman and board members so it is not just Secretary Duque, there are also ex-officio board members who include five sitting secretaries,” he said.

“The recommendation recommends strong advice to the PhilHealth chairman and board members who really need to take care of the money coming from people’s coffers” (Task Force recommends strong advice to the PhilHealth chairman and board members of the board of directors that they should really save the funds from the nation’s coffers), “he said.

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