Task Force PhilHealth members to meet this Friday

Members of Task Force PhilHealth are set to meet this Friday, Aug. 14, said Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra.

“We have scheduled a conference with the other members of the task force on Friday afternoon,” he said on Wednesday, Aug. 12.

“We are presently inviting certain resource persons to give us a briefing on alleged irregularities at PhilHealth, so that we may clearly identify and prioritize the work to be done,” he added.

Guevarra noted that the meeting will be held at the Department of Justice (DOJ) in Manila with task force members having the option of participating through videoconference via the Zoom application.

He noted that the DOJ team already met last Monday, Aug. 10, “to discuss organizational matters and the operational strategy for task force PhilHealth.”

The task force which is headed by Guevarra is composed of representatives from the DOJ, the Office of the Ombudsman, Commission on Audit, Civil Service Commission and the Office of the President as its members.

The task force will discharge its functions “in close collaboration with other relevant offices, such as the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission.”

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) were also some of the government agencies tapped to support the task force.

Guevarra formed the task force last Aug. 7 upon the order of President Duterte who wanted an investigation into the allegations of corruption at the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).

In a memorandum addressed to Guevarra dated Aug. 7, Duterte told the secretary to “organize a panel for the conduct of an investigation on the various allegations of corruption and anomalies in the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), including the audit of the PhilHealth finances and conduct of lifestyle checks of its officials and employees.”

“The DOJ shall have the authority to require other agencies and instrumentalities of the government to be members of the panel or to assist in its work. It may also seek the assistance of the constitutional commissions and other independent government bodies, and even invite them to be members of the panel,” read the memorandum.

“During the course of the investigation, if warranted, the panel may recommend to the President the imposition of preventive suspension on any PhilHealth official to ensure the unhampered conduct of the investigation,” the President instructed.

Duterte gave the task force 30 days starting from its creation to submit to him “its findings and recommendations, which shall include, proposed legal actions against officials and employees found responsible for acts of corruption and anomalies in PhilHealth.”