Guevarra believes President won’t interfere in Duque’s possible prosecution

Published October 6, 2020, 12:13 PM

by Jeffrey Damicog

Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Tuesday (Oct. 6) expressed belief President Duterte will not interfere in the possible prosecution of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra

 Guevarra pointed this out after Duterte on Monday night (Oct. 5) renewed his support to Duque amid alleged corrupt activities taking place at the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).

“I view the President’s statement as an expression of trust, not of exoneration,” Guevarra said.

The secretary reminded that the President was once a government prosecutor who prosecuted wrongdoers.

“If evidence should turn up against anyone, regardless of position, I believe that the President, who has prosecutorial blood running in his veins, will not impede the legal process from taking its due course,” Guevarra said.

“The DOJ will simply continue what it has been directed by the President to do; that is, to bring any and all lawbreakers at PhilHealth before the bars of justice,” he assured.

Duterte already received last Sept. 14 the report of Task Force PhilHealth which Guevarra heads regarding the investigation conducted over corrupt activities at the state health insurer.

During Monday’s public address, the President said he has fully read Task Force PhilHealth’s report

“I have yet to find ‘yung sabi nila na idedemanda si Duque dahil may kasalanan (I have yet to find something that Duque can be indicated due to alleged wrongdoing),” Duterte said.

“I have read the findings and for the life of me I cannot really find a good reason to prosecute an innocent man,” he added.

The report recommended the filing of complaints against former PhilHealth President and Chief Executive Officer 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.

Guevarra earlier said that the task force has former composite teams which will continue to investigate and gather evidence that will lead in the prosecution of PhilHealth officials found involved in corruption.

Just last Oct. 1, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), a member of Task Force PhilHealth, filed a criminal complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) against Morales and eight other PhilHealth officials over alleged irregularities in the implementation of the Interim Reimbursement Mechanism (IRM).

Aside from Morales, those named as respondents in the complaint include de Jesus, Limsiaco, Pargas, Vice President Gregorio Rulloda, Imelda Trinidad de Vera, Lolita Tuliao, Gemma Sibucao, and Lailani Padua.

Rulloda, de Vera, Tuliao, Sibucao, and Padua were not included in the report submitted to Duterte.