PhilHealth probe to proceed sans execs

August 09, 2020

THE investigation by a task force which was created upon orders of President  Rodrigo Duterte to investigate accusations of massive corruption inside the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) will proceed 'with or without' the officials involved in the controversy.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra made the comment over the weekend when his take was sought on the supposed medical conditions of PhilHealth president Ricardo Morales and executive vice president and chief operating officer Arnel de Jesus, and their possible absence in legislative and Justice Department inquiries.

"Not at all. We'll convene next week and map out our overall strategy. I have one in mind already, but it’s premature to disclose," Guevarra said.

Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete echoed his boss' statement that Task Force PhilHealth's investigators will base their findings on documents and other pieces of evidence.

Just the other day, Morales and de Jesus in separate letters notified the Senate of their health concerns, days before the legislative hearing on corruption issues within the agency resumes.

Morales on Friday sent a medical certificate to the Senate Committee of the Whole informing it that he was undergoing treatment for lymphoma, cancer of the lymph nodes, and has been advised by his doctors to take a leave of absence.

Morales disclosed that he has been undergoing chemotherapy since February. He said he asked the Senate if he could join its probe virtually, via Zoom, as his “immune system is compromised because of the chemo.”

On the other, de Jesus told Senate President Tito Sotto III that he would not be able participate in the next Senate inquiry scheduled for Tuesday due to an “unforeseen medical emergency.”

His medical certificate showed that de Jesus has been admitted in a private hospital since August 5 after being diagnosed with a cardiovascular diseases. He is in need of a surgery.

President Duterte ordered the Department of Justice 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 just quit his post.

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

During the almost 10-hour-long inquiry recently, senators questioned PhilHealth officials over the following issues:

*a proposed P2.1-billion information technology project, which even state auditors had earlier flagged as overpriced

*a supposedly questionable release of funds under the corporation’s Interim Reimbursement Mechanism (IRM)

*the alleged manipulation of the corporation’s financial status.