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Day of reckoning coming for Duque

Hananeel Bordey



DEPARTMENT of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III is not yet off the hook in the PhilHealth imbroglio. TED ALJIBE/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and former senior vice president (SVP) for Legal Sector Rodolfo del Rosario Jr. may just be made accountable for the string of anomalies involving the Philippine Health Insurance Co. (PhilHealth) based on information senators received from the task force that President Rodrigo Duterte formed to probe the agency.

If not, the Senate will consider initiating, on its own, the filing of cases against both officials.

Task Force PhilHealth’s information relayed to Senate President Vicente Sotto III indicated pieces of evidence that will pin Duque and Del Rosario to irregularities.

“There is a piece of inside information relayed to SP (Senate President Vicente Sotto III) that point to Secretary Duque but I don’t want to pre-empt the task force but this information was shared to SP by his trusted source in the task force. The source said the evidence will involve Secretary Duque and SVP del Rosario,” Senator Panfilo Lacson said in a radio interview.

Probe not over yet
Lacson’s revelation came after he was asked about the exclusion of Duque and Del Rosario in the initial findings released by the task force led by the Department of Justice (DoJ).

He noted that the task force is still continuing the investigation and succeeding findings may include officials who were not included in the initial list of officers sought to be indicted.

Lacson also raised the possibility that senators themselves will file charges against the erring officials if the DOJ-led task force will not pursue raps against those to be found liable.

“We’re keeping our options open. We can initiate the filing of charges against those who were not included by the task force (in its report). Nothing can prevent us if we intend to file charges before the Ombudsman as a body, either the Senate as a whole or the entire Congress if we will include the House of Representatives because they are also conducting an extensive investigation in this,” he said.

IRM root of corruption
Last Friday, the National Bureau of Investigation has filed a complaint against former PhilHealth president and CEO Ricardo Morales.

Other officials implicated were Arnel de Jesus, PhilHealth chief operating officer; Renato Limsiaco Jr., SVP on Fund Management Sector; Israel Pargas, svp on Health Finance Policy Sector; Gregorio Rulloda, Area vice president for Area II – South Luzon and NCR and concurrent vice president-PhilHealth Regional Office NCR; Lolita Tuliao, Branch Manager of PhilHealth Regional Office in NCR; and PhilHealth employees Imelda Trinidad-De Vera, Gemma Sibucao and Lailani Padua.

The complaint stemmed from the illegal implementation of the Interim Reimbursement Mechanism (IRM).

Lacson also expressed hope that the top officials and SVPs who were asked by new PhilHealth chief Dante Gierran to resign will heed the call.

“All top officials of PhilHealth were asked to file courtesy resignations. So I suppose and I would like to think that they will respect the call of their new president and CEO,” DoJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra said.

Previously, the Senate has recommended charges against Duque and several PhilHealth officials over their alleged involvement in the release of at least P14 billion in PhilHealth funds through the IRM.

The PhilHealth was also bugged by controversies over the overpriced equipment for their Information Technology system and the mismanagement of PhilHealth funds.

“More complaints will be filed in the next few days and weeks against erring PhilHealth personnel and their cohorts,” Guevarra said.