‘Dumbfounded’: Sotto stunned after task force cleared Duque in PhilHealth mess
MANILA, Philippines — Senate President Vicente Sotto III said he was stunned that the multi-agency task force created to probe Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) did not recommend the filing of charges against Health Secretary Francisco Duque III for the fund mess involving the state insurer.
“No Duque? No Del Rosario? I’m dumbfounded! Article 217 (Malversation) of the [Revised Penal Code] is very clear,” Sotto said in a Viber message to reporters on Monday.
Sotto chairs the Senate Committee of the Whole, which earlier recommended the filing of malversation and graft charges against Duque and several other officials over the allegedly questionable release of billions of funds through PhilHealth’s emergency cash advance measure.
The committee also wants administrative cases filed against resigned PhilHealth senior vice president for legal sector Rodolfo del Rosario and all the other officers and employees of the agency’s Protest and Appeal Review Department “for their failure to act and gross neglect of duties relative to the cases pending in their department.”
However, no charges were recommended against both Duque and Del Rosario by the task force led by the Department of Justice.
“Perhaps the Ombudsman would have a better perspective of the anomalies,” Sotto went on.
Duque, who serves as PhilHealth board’s ex-officio chairman, has since dismissed the Senate committee’s findings as “baseless.”
The health chief 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 Sotto had stressed that Duque’s own admission that he had no knowledge of the allegedly anomalous distribution of IRM funds only proves that he had been negligent as PhilHealth board chair.
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