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DOJ’s initial report on PhilHealth mess ready for Rody’s eyes

Alvin Murcia



President Rodrigo Duterte will be presented today a window into the culture of corruption that had infested the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) through the initial report of the Department of Justice (DoJ) on the investigations it held on the beleaguered agency.

DoJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the report will attempt to present the general environment at PhilHealth which enables fraud and corruption to thrive.

“It will also contain specific instances where fraudulent or corrupt acts have been perpetrated because of this enabling environment,” Guevarra indicated.

The report that Guevarra’s Task Force PhilHealth will submit to Malacañang is only preliminary since the investigations are still ongoing.

DoJ Undersecretary Markk Perete, who is also department spokesperson, said the report had gathered the comments of members of the task force.

‘We’ve only just begun’
“I can’t say our investigation is over, we’ve only just begun. We wound up our initial investigation only because we are required to submit a report to the President in 30 days,” Guevarra said.

He vowed “our composite teams will continue their ongoing investigations and special audits and file legal actions as they finish one case after another.”

The task force was given 30 days to wound up their investigation by President Rodrigo Duterte in which Guevarra was the convenor. The deadline falls today, 14 September.

After submitting the initial report, which Guevarra refused to give details on, he said the DoJ will wait for any new directive from the President.

He said, however, the task force composite teams will continue performing their tasks.

Special mission
Guevarra was assigned by the President to create the task force and personally oversee its operations to ensure a coordinated government action, with support from his undersecretaries, assistant secretaries and a team of DoJ lawyers acting as secretariat.

Other than the WellMed issue, members of the task force have identified which specific investigations or audits could be reasonably accomplished within the period given to them.

On 7 August, Duterte signed a memorandum designating the DoJ to form a task force that will investigate and prosecute offenders behind the alleged widespread corruption and irregularities within the agency.

Task Force PhilHealth is composed of top officials from the Office of the Ombudsman, Commission on Audit, Civil Service Commission, Office of the Executive Secretary, Office of the President and the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission.

Go demands accountability
Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go issued a call for cooperation amid the ongoing investigation on PhilHealth to ensure the conviction of culprits and thus improve health services to all Filipinos.

“While it is truly saddening that PhilHealth has become a concern due to reported corruption. I know that the majority of employees in the health insurance firm are honest and dedicated in providing service to Filipinos,” Go said.

“I am appealing for cooperation. Let those concerned, return every centavos that Filipinos have been contributing to PhilHealth, particularly in this period of the pandemic. Filipinos can’t afford to have their money go to waste and I hope it will not reach the extent that hospitals will turn away poor Filipinos because PhilHealth has become bankrupt,” he said.