Task Force PhilHealth composite teams given 30 days to wrap up probes

Published September 16, 2020, 11:48 AM

by Jeffrey Damicog

Composite teams created by the task force investigating anomalies at the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) were given 30 days to wrap up their separate probes, Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra said on Wednesday.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra

“We’ll ask the composite teams to finish their investigations on the IT (information technology) and legal sectors in 30 days,” said Guevarra, convenor of Task Force PhilHealth which is investigating the anomalies at the state health insurer.

“Then, we’ll prepare the complaints if there’s enough evidentiary basis,” he added.

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. It is composed of the DOJ, the NBI, the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC), the Office of the Special Assistant to the President (OSAP), and the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).

Guevarra said each of the composite teams is composed of members from each of the participating agencies of the task force.

The task force has already submitted to President Duterte on Monday, Sept. 14, its report on the initial findings of its investigation.

During the conduct of the investigation, Task Force PhilHealth focused on three issues: the approval and implementation of the Interim Reimbursement Mechanism (IRM); the approval of budgets for the purchase of information and communications technology (ICT) equipment; and corporate policies and practices that fail to check, investigate, prosecute, and penalize the wrongdoings of PhilHealth personnel as well as health care institutions (HCIs) and professionals.

In its report, Task Force PhilHealth recommended the filing of criminal complaints for violating Republic Act 3019, the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, against former PhilHealth PCEO Ricardo Morales; Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Amel De Jesus; Senior Vice President Jovita Aragona, Chief Information Officer and head of the Information Management Sector; Senior Vice President  Renato Limsiaco Jr; Senior Vice President Israel Francis Pargas of the Health Financial Policy Sector; Officer in Charge Calixto Gabuya Jr.; and Division Chief Bobby Crisostomo.

The task force also recommended the filing of criminal complaints against Morales for violating provisions of the National Internal Revenue Code Code as well as for malversation of public funds or property and illegal use of public funds or property in violation of the Revised Penal Code (RPC).

Aside from Morales, the task force said Limsiaco should also be held liable for malversation of public funds or property under the RPC.

The task force said criminal complaints should also be filed against Aragona and Gabuya for frauds against the public treasury and similar offenses under the RPC.

It also recommended that administrative charges be filed against them for dishonesty, gross neglect of duty, grave misconduct, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.