DOJ to leave no stone unturned in PhilHealth probe

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Friday said a task force will be formed shortly by the agency to investigate anomalies in the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).

“I have received the President’s memo. I will form a high-level task force immediately,” Guevarra said in a message to newsmen, adding that there will be no stones unturned in the course of its investigation.

Guevarra added that he is now coordinating with the Office of the Ombudsman regarding the matter.

“I will reserve judgment (until) the task force has gone to work. We shall base our actions on such facts as may be established and such conclusions as may be reasonably inferred therefrom,” he said.

President Rodrigo Duterte, in a memorandum, tasked the Justice Department to investigate and prosecute offenders, including the audit of finances and the conduct of lifestyle checks on officials and employees of the state health insurance firm.

Under the terms of the President’s directive, during the course of the investigation, if warranted, the panel may recommend to the President the imposition of preventive suspension on any Philhealth official to ensure the unhampered conduct of the investigation.

Within 30 days from its constitution, the panel through Guevarra, shall submit to the Office of the President its findings and recommendations which shall include proposed legal actions against officials and employees found responsible for acts of corruption or anomalies in Philhealth.

The President’s order came after resigned PhilHealth anti-fraud officer Thorsson Montes Keith claimed that around PHP15 billion of the agency’s funds have been pocketed by some corrupt officials.

Keith also revealed that all members of the state firm’s executive committee composed the “mafia,” which had been allegedly siphoning funds from PhilHealth for the past years through fraudulent transactions.

His allegations also came after PhilHealth acting senior vice president Nerissa Santiago’s admission that the firm could go bankrupt in 2021 due to decreased collections and increased payouts for health expenses of its members due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19). (PNA)

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