Duterte vows to work on cases vs PhilHealth people during his last 2 years in office
President Rodrigo Duterte has vowed to spend the last two years of his administration to file charges against people engaged in corruption at the Philippine Health Insurance Corp.(PhilHealth)
"Few things that I can do in the remaining two years of my term, I will spend the remaining time to work on the cases for people who are involved (in corruption) in the PhilHealth," Duterte said in a taped televised message on Monday night, which was aired on Tuesday morning.
In the same televised message, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, head of the inter-agency task force that Duterte ordered to conduct an investigation against PhilHealth officials, said one of the possible "biggest sources" of alleged fraudulent activities in PhilHealth is the legal sector.
"In the fact-finding and investigation reports that we have received so far including those from the Senate and the House of Representatives, it seems that the legal sector is a very ripe source of irregularities," he said.
He also cited the "fragmented" information technology system of the state-run health insurer.
"It can easily be manipulated because there is no centralized control over the management information system," Guevarra said.
He said their probe is also focused on the Interim Reimbursement Mechanism, an emergency cash advance made by PhilHealth to hospitals in case of unanticipated events like natural disasters and calamities in order to respond immediately.
In the Senate investigation, IRM allegedly became a source of corruption in PhilHealth.
Guevarra said the task force is also looking into PhilHealth's financial management.
"This is again one area where we believe that many irregularities in the past were being committed," he said.
He said the task force has also formed composite teams to follow through the information that it received from congressional hearings or meetings.
The composite teams are composed of representatives from the National Bureau of Investigation, Commission on Audit, Anti-Money Laundering Council, and the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission.
"Even as these composite teams are going through the process of investigating more deeply these alleged irregularities, we are also conducting lifestyle checks of certain key officials of PhilHealth so that we can relate --- we can relate, we can connect the irregularities that we uncover during the investigation with the lifestyle of these people. So there might be a reinforcing effect if we see that these guys are probably involved in this particular irregularity. They're making money and it's being shown in their lifestyle," he said.
Duterte has given the task force 30 days to complete its probe since it was formed early this month.
Guevarra said their ultimate objective is to file legal actions before the Office of the Ombudsman against erring PhilHealth officials and employees.
He also said the task force hopes to make recommendations for PhilHealth structural reforms, such as for its possible reorganization, whether partial or total.
"More specifically, we have broached the idea to the GCG (Governance Commission for Government-Owned and -Controlled Corporations) of creating an interim management committee for PhilHealth. And it's something that probably the Office of the President may direct the GCG to do so that they will do it more immediately," he said.
He also expressed hope that with the work of the task force, Congress may craft new legislation "to strengthen PhilHealth and make it more responsive to the needs of the people." Celerina Monte/DMS