Guevarra takes charge of PhilHealth probe

August 10, 2020
Menardo Guevarra

JUSTICE Secretary Menardo Guevarra yesterday said that he will personally oversee the investigation of Task Force PhilHealth, which was recently created on orders of President Duterte to probe the state-run financial institution. 

The task force composed of Justice Department officials and lawyers, and representatives from other government agencies, was convened yesterday to finalize a strategy and identify specific areas of concern. 

" I will personally oversee its operation to ensure a coordinated government action, with support from my undersecretaries and assistant secretaries and a team of DOJ lawyers acting as secretariat. The members of the task force are presently identifying which specific investigations or audits... could be reasonably accomplished within the limited period given to the task force, " Guevarra said. 

President Duterte ordered the DOJ to form a task force to investigate allegations of multi-billion peso corruption in PhilHealth. 

Thorsson Montes Keith, PhilHealth anti-legal fraud officer, recently blew the whistle on his colleagues by citing the “widespread corruption in PhilHealth. ” He has quit his post. 

The Senate Committee of the Whole has been conducting a formal inquiry into the PhilHealth fund mess. 

Leave of absence

Guevarra said that officials of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation embroiled in alleged corruption should voluntarily take a leave of absence out of delicadeza. 

"Sa ngayon wala pa.. I hope sila na ang magkusang mag-leave while their agency is under intense investigation," Guevarra said when asked if the newly-created task force would recommend the suspension of PhilHealth executives implicated in alleged anomalies. 

When asked who among the PhilHealth officials should go on leave, Guevarra said:" Those whose operations are currently under investigation or special audit."

" They know who they are. If they are not hiding anything, they can take a leave of absence to enable the investigators/auditors to freely complete their inquiry or examination. Besides, the National Privacy Commission has repeatedly declared that the Data Privacy Act may not be used to hinder the conduct of legitimate government investigations.