Pres Duterte to await task force’s findings on PhilHealth woes

President Rodrigo Duterte would rely on the findings of Task Force PhilHealth on the allegations of unabated and widespread corruption in the state-run insurer, Malacañang said on Wednesday.

“For now, the President would defer to the findings of the task force,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in an interview with CNN Philippines’ The Source. “The President will have to await the formal findings of his own task force.”

Roque made the statement after the Senate Committee of the Whole recommended on Tuesday the filing of criminal charges against embattled Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, resigned PhilHealth chief Ricardo Morales, and several former and incumbent PhilHealth officials over the supposedly “improper and illegal implementation” of the interim reimbursement mechanism (IRM).

The Senate committee said Duque, Morales, and some senior vice presidents of PhilHealth should be slapped with criminal and administrative cases for their alleged involvement in the “shady” implementation of the IRM.

The IRM is an advanced payment program that allows PhilHealth to give health care institutions cash in advance to respond to unanticipated events, such as natural disasters and calamities.

Roque said the Senate’s recommendation is “always welcome.”

He, however, said Task Force PhilHealth would come up with better recommendations than the ones made by the Senate.

“So you would expect that the evaluation of evidence and appreciation of evidence would be, should I say, far more in-depth than the Senate investigation. That’s why we are awaiting the findings of the task force,” Roque said.

The task force, created by Duterte on August 7 and led by the Department of Justice, was directed to investigate the supposed rampant corruption in PhilHealth.

Other members of the task force are the Office of the Ombudsman, Commission on Audit, Civil Service Commission, the Office of the Executive Secretary, the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission, and the Office of the Special Assistant to the President.

Roque expressed confidence that the task force would consider the Senate’s recommendation.

“I think the task force itself will evaluate the findings of the Senate. I’m almost sure that the Senate has transmitted all the evidence it has gathered in the course of its investigation. Whether or not the task force will agree with the conclusion, I leave it to the task force,” he said.

Roque said he was also optimistic that it would ensure that individuals behind the widespread corruption in PhilHealth would be held accountable for their acts.

The task force, he said, only has until September 14 to finish the investigation on PhilHealth.

“I think within the month of September, the President would like to see their findings,” Roque said. “As I said, let’s await the recommendations of the task force. If the task force has a similar recommendation as the Senate, so be it.” (PNA)

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