IN light of recent developments in the investigation into the alleged corruption hounding the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), Senator Christopher “Bong” Go stressed that while he welcomes the recent filing of leave of absence by six PhilHealth regional officers, preventive suspensions must still be meted out to others accused of being involved in anomalies in order to fully maintain the integrity of the probe.
“’Yung mga sinasabing involved, dapat mailagay sa preventive suspension para hindi maimpluwensyahan ang imbestigasyon at para hindi pa kumalat lalo ang sakit na corruption sa ahensya,” he said.
“Para maitigil ang kalokohan, dapat talaga pilayin ang magnanakaw para hindi na makagalaw,” he explained, adding “hindi lahat kasi nakikita ng head ng ahensya. Marami diyan umo-operate sa ibaba. Kaya dapat pilayin mga ‘yan para hindi na makagalaw, makalusot at makapagnakaw pa muli.”
Go stressed that the probe is not finished until the agency is cured from systemic corruption and those responsible for the irregularities are brought to justice.
“Let me emphasize na simula lang ito. Hindi po tayo titigil hangga’t hindi nalilinis ang PhilHealth at walang napaparusahan sa pagnanakaw ng pondo ng PhilHealth na dapat sana ay pinapakinabangan ng ating mga kababayang nangangailangan nito sa panahon ng pandemya. Heads must roll,” he added.
“Managot ang dapat managot. Ikulong ang dapat ikulong. We should get to the bottom of this deeply rooted and systemic corruption in PhilHealth,” he emphatically warned.
Go’s remarks came after six PhilHealth regional officers heeded the call of Department of Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra and filed their leave of absence. This was confirmed by Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque in a statement, saying that the filing of LOA by the regional officers is “the right and proper thing to do.”
The statement also clarified that the six officials are not “the mafia referred to by Senator Panfilo Lacson.” The regional vice presidents who filed their LOA are Paolo Johann Perez of MIMAROPA region, Datu Masiding Alonto Jr. of Northern Mindanao, Atty. Valerie Anne Hollero of Western Visayas, Atty. Khaliquzzman Macabato of Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Dennis Adre and William Chavez.
The senator has been emphasizing the need for an overhaul and internal cleansing of PhilHealth. “Kung walang itinatago, dapat mag-cooperate. Gawin lahat para malinis ang ahensya at hindi mahawahan ang iba,” Go said.
Earlier, Go proposed the preventive suspension of PhilHealth officials accused of committing fraud to protect the integrity of the investigation to be conducted by the Task Force led by the Department of Justice.
“I think, ang problema dito, hindi makakagalaw nang maayos ang investigative bodies natin dahil nasa pwesto pa rin ang mga suspects pero hindi sila matatanggal at magkaroon ng preventive suspension,” said Go.
He also urged to review existing policies and possibly amend the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees to allow preventive suspension prior to the start of an investigation in order to prevent any undue influence. According to Go, systemic corruption is a sickness that needs to be addressed by both curative and preventive measures.