Guevarra assures PhilHealth probe spares no one

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra has assured their probe into the scandalous corruption and anomalies at the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth), spares no one.

Guevarra said he believes President Duterte would not prevent the prosecution of anyone in his Cabinet if there is clear evidence of wrongdoing.

“If evidence should turn up against anyone, regardless of position, I believe the President, who has prosecutorial blood running in his veins, will not impede the legal process from taking its due course. The DOJ will simply continue what it has been directed by the President to do — to bring any and all lawbreakers at PhilHealth before the bars of justice,” Guevarra said in a message.

The Justice Secretary’s message was in reaction to an earlier statement by Duterte’s that he sees no reason to charge Health Secretary Francisco Duque III in connection with irregularities hounding PhilHealth.

“I view the President’s statement as an expression of trust, not of exoneration,” added Guevarra who also pointed out that the Senate or the House of Representatives are free to file their own complaints against erring PhilHealth officials.

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) formally endorsed to the Office of the Ombudsman the complaint against former PhilHealth president and chief executive officer Ricardo Morales and other senior officials of the agency including executive vice president Arnel de Jesus, senior vice president Renato Limsiaco, senior vice president Israel Francis Pargas and vice presidents Gregorio Rulloda, Imelda Trinidad de Vera, Lolita Tuliao, Gemma Sibucao, and Lailani Padua.

The complaints against them involve anomalies in the implementation of PhilHealth’s interim reimbursement mechanism (IRM) which permits the grant of cash advances to healthcare institutions which has allegedly been grossly abused.

DOJ investigators have found out that only about 33% or P5 billion of the P14.9 billion released via the IRM has been liquidated.

In particular the indicted PhilHealth officials are charged with violation of Sections 3(e) and 3 (i) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, malversation of public funds or property, violation of Sections 251, 255, and 272 of the National Internal Revenue Code, and Section 4 of RA 1051 which requires state agencies to deduct and withhold taxes in payments made to private individuals/institutions.

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