Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra said on Sunday, August 9, the task force created by President Duterte to investigate reported irregularities in the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) will concentrate on the probes already on-going and being undertaken by several agencies to expedite its work.
“Given the limited period (30 days) to submit a report with recommendations for legal action, we shall give preferential attention to the investigation of alleged irregularities that could reasonably be completed within the given time frame,” said Guevarra.
One of the alleged irregularities involving PhilHealth is the multi-billion-peso “ghost patients “ who reportedly availed themselves of kidney dialysis treatments from WellMed Dialysis and Laboratory Center.
Last year, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) filed with the Department of Justice (DOJ) complaints against 21 officials and employees of PhilHealth in connection of the dialysis treatments for “ghost patients.”
“I will request the rest of the Task Force PhilHealth members to identify these ongoing investigations that may actually be expedited and completed within the period. I hope the WellMed ghost dialysis claims case is one of them,” Guevarra said.
He said the task force which he heads will not focus primarily on the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) alleged irregularities since other agencies are already conducting their own probes like the Senate, House of Representatives and the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC).
“There are investigations and special audits already ongoing prior to the creation of Task Force PhilHealth and even before the COVID-19 outbreak,” he said.
He also said that Task Force PhilHealth has coordinated with the PACC and has requested a copy of their initial report on the alleged irregularities.
Published reports stated that PACC Commissioner Greco Belgica had said that his office may file administrative cases against 36 PhilHealth officials, 13 of whom may be charged criminally.
The other members of the Task Force PhilHealth, aside from the DOJ and PACC, are the Office of the Ombudsman, Commission on Audit (COA), Civil Service Commission (CSC), Office of the Executive Secretary, and the Presidential Management Staff (PMS).
“We (task force members) have all agreed that while working independently, we shall closely coordinate and collaborate with each other for a focused and targeted approach,” Guevarra stressed.