‘There’s no turning back:’ Palace says of task force probe on PhilHealth mess
MANILA, Philippines — “There is no turning back.”
This was Malacañang’s pronouncement as it assured the public that the high-level task force created to investigate the alleged corruption in the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) will proceed with its mandate to probe fresh claims of irregularities in the agency.
“There is no turning back as we expect the Task Force to submit its findings and recommendations to the Office of the President within thirty (30) days after its constitution as directed by the Chief Executive,” Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said Sunday.
Roque issued the statement after PhilHealth president and CEO Ricardo Morales and executive vice president Arnel de Jesus notified the Senate, which is conducting an investigation into alleged anomalies in the state-run insurer, about their health conditions.
President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesman said the Palace will leave it to the Senate, a separate co-equal branch of government, to comment on reports that Morales and De Jesus may skip the Senate hearing scheduled for August 11 due to medical reasons.
“As far as the Executive is concerned, the Task Force organized by the Department of Justice (DOJ), upon the instruction of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, will proceed in its mandate to investigate the various allegations of corruption in PhilHealth,” Roque said.
The task force, the Palace official said, will make an audit of PhilHealth finances and conduct lifestyle checks on the agency’s officials and employees.
If warranted, the task force could also recommend the preventive suspension on any official to ensure an “unhampered” probe, Roque added.
Duterte ordered the DOJ to create the task force as the Senate, the House of the Representatives Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) opened their own separate probes into the matter.
The PACC had already submitted an initial report on its investigation. It recommended the filing of graft and corruption cases against 36 high-ranking and mid-level officials of the state health insurer.
Senators earlier grilled PhilHealth officials over a proposed P2.1-billion information technology project, which state auditors earlier flagged as overpriced, the supposedly questionable release of funds under the corporation’s Interim Reimbursement Mechanism (IRM) and the alleged manipulation of the corporation’s financial status.
A recently resigned PhilHealth anti-fraud officer also claimed that a mafia-like syndicate operating in the agency allegedly pocketed P15 billion through various schemes.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.