Palace: Duque not yet absolved of liability over PhilHealth anomalies

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III is not yet absolved of liability over the anomalies in the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) despite his exclusion from the list of officials facing administrative and criminal complaints.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the investigation into the PhilHealth anomalies will continue even after the DOJ-led task force has submitted its  initial findings and recommendations to President Duterte.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr.

"This is only the beginning. Nakasaad din sa report na magpapatuloy ang imbestigasyon ng NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) at DOJ (Department of Justice) at magpapatuloy ang imbestigasyon ng Ombudsman (The report stated the investigation of the NBI and DOJ will continue. The investigation of the Ombudsman will also continue)," Roque said during a televised press briefing.

"Ito ay pauna pa lamang (This is just the preliminary)  given the very limited period of time na binigay sa task force to come up with recommendations," he added.

On Monday, the President approved the recommendations of the task force on the filing of charges against former PhilHealth president Ricardo Morales and other senior officials over the alleged anomalies in PhilHealth.

The task force recommended that the concerned PhilHealth officials should be held liable for violation of the country's anti-graft law, malversation of public funds, gross misconduct, and gross neglect of duty, among others, in connection with the alleged irregularities in the procurement of information and communications technology equipment and disbursement of the Interim Reimbursement Mechanism (IRM).

Duque, chairman of the PhilHealth board, was not included in the list of persons recommended for the filing of administrative and criminal raps.
Instead, the task force recommended to the President to strongly admonish and remind the chairman and members of the board of the "grave consequence of their action or inaction to the PhilHealth fund, to the government, and its coffers, and to the interests of the ordinary people who rely on PhilHeath assistance.” 

In the task force report, Roque said the board chairman and members supposedly exhibited "negligence" in several instances such as careless approval of ICT procurement, their ratification of the IRM Fund releases in March, 2020, and consent to modification of judgments in court-adjudicated cases.

But such negligence has been "somehow mitigated" by the concealment of vital documents and information and apparent misrepresentation by those who had sought the board's approval, Roque  said.

"The task force said there was negligence on the part of the chairman of the board and members of the board so it is not just Secretary Duque, there are also ex-officio members of the board which include five sitting secretaries," he said.

"Sa recommendation ay strong admonishment sa chairman ng PhilHealth at sa members of the board of directors na talagang kinakailangan na talagang pangalagaan ang salapi na galing sa kaban ng taumbayan (The task force recommend the strong admonishment of the chairman of PhilHealth and members of the board of directors that they should really safeguard funds from the nation's coffers)," he said.