Duque admits losing sleep over being tagged in PhilHealth ‘corruption’
MANILA, Philippines — Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Monday admitted losing sleep over allegations linking him to the “illegal” release of billions of Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) funds.
During President Rodrigo Duterte’s televised talk aired Monday, Duque took the opportunity to express his frustrations apparently on the Senate Committee of the Whole report, calling for the filing of malversation and graft and corruption charges against him and other PhilHealth officials for the alleged questionable release of PhilHealth funds through the agency’s Interim Reimbursement Mechanism (IRM).
“Actually nakakatawa ho, I have to express my frustrations. Eh ‘yung mga pumirma hindi sila ni-recommend for filing of the cases. ‘Yung hindi pumirma, ‘yun lang ang idinawit. Bakit naman gano’n?” the health chief said.
Prior to this, Duterte expressed his admiration and sympathy for Duque. The President even told his health chief that “this is not the time for you to resign… I have full trust in you.”
“Height of injustice, unfairness, and masakit po ‘yun. ‘Yung hindi ka pumirma, ikaw pa ‘yung idinadawit, ipinipilit na idawit. ‘Yun lang, Sir, ang hindi ko matanggap sa dibdib ko, ‘di ho ako nakakatulog ho dahil dito, Sir,” Duque confessed to the President.
The Department of Health secretary, who also serves as the PhilHealth board’s ex-officio chairman, has earlier dismissed the Senate Committee of the Whole report as “baseless findings.”
Duque said he was implicated with the IRM fund distribution when he “was not even part of the deliberation and did not sign the said resolution” that authorized it.
But Senate President Vicente Sotto III, who led the chamber’s investigation, had insisted that Duque should be held liable for the PhilHealth IRM fund mess under Article 217 (Malversation) of the Revised Penal Code.
According to Sotto, Duque’s own admission that he had no knowledge of the allegedly anomalous distribution of IRM funds only proves that the health chief had been negligent as PhilHealth board chair.