Duque not yet off the hook — PACC

Published September 16, 2020, 10:25 AM

by Noreen Jazul

Anti-corruption agency finds evidence that ‘opened more leads’

Department of Health Secretary Franciso Duque III is not yet off the hook in the government’s continuing probe on the alleged anomalies in the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).

Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) Commissioner Greco Belgica said the Task Force PhilHealth has only investigated the Interim Reimbursement Mechanism issue in the agency, and other issues are still being investigated.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III (MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

“Secretary Duque is not yet off the hook. A thorough investigation and determination of liabilities is being done in the entire PhilHealth,” Belgica told ANC in an interview Wednesday.

Belgica said the PACC, in the course of its investigation, has also found evidence that “opened more leads.”

The PACC is one of the composite teams created by Task Force PhilHealth.

Duque, who serves as PhilHealth chairman, was not included in the list of officials to be charged as recommended by the Department of Justiceled task force.

The task force only recommended the “strong admonishment” of Duque.

Belgica said the admonishment to Duque signifies that the “investigation is not yet finished.”

The PACC chair said they are still substantiating “admissions heard from the Senate and Congress” with documents and pieces of evidence they have secured.

“We can’t give in to public pressure to file cases,” Belgica said.

Belgica also said that the task force and President Duterte “cleared no one of liability” in the PhilHealth mess.

“The President has reiterated his trust in Sec. Duque but has not stopped us or ordered us to stop the investigation. In fact, he continues to tell us to investigate,” Belgica said.

“Wala hong na-clear dito (We didn’t clear anybody). Yung 30 days (The 30 days), we are are only saying na ito ang natapos namin (that is what we are able to accomplish) on the issue that we investigated. This will still include everyone,” Belgica added.

Belgica said that given the nature of Duque’s position, it makes him a “suspect already.”

“What you did and what you did not do can be held against you,” he said.

The PACC chair, meanwhile, assured that the mafia in the agency will not survive President Duterte’s presidency or administration.

Meanwhile, Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the composite teams created by the task force were given 30 days to wrap up their separate probes.

Guevarra said the 30-day period will begin once retired National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Director Dante Gierran formally takes over as PhilHealth president and chief executive officer (PCEO).

“We’ll start pag nag-assume na ng office si PCEO Gierran (We will start when Gierran assumes office),” he said.

Gierran is expected to take his oath within the week.

The task force was created by Guevarra on August 7 pursuant to the directive of President Duterte to investigate corruption allegations against PhilHealth.

Aside from the PACC, it is composed of the DOJ, the NBI, the Office of the Special Assistant to the President (OSAP), and the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC). (With a report from Jeffrey G. Damicog)