Not even the closest “friend” of President Rodrigo Duterte, embattled Health Secretary Francisco Duque III are among the officials whom recommended to be charged criminally for alleged irregularities in the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).
“It is very obvious ‘yung findings namin. Tingin ko talagang lahat ng rekomendasyon namin na kasuhan nila ay mafa-file-an nila talaga, both criminal charges at administrative charges,” Senate President Tito Sotto said in an radio interview today.
The Senate Committee of the Whole earlier urged raps against Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, ex-officio chairman of the PhilHealth board, and the agency’s resigned chief Ricardo Morales, among others, over the “improper and illegal implementation of the interim reimbursement mechanism,” or the cash advances to health care institutions.
Sotto earlier said that the IRM implementation does not have any legal justification as the Board Resolution concerning it was belatedly adopted on March 31, 2020, while the Circular 2020-0007 was implemented on March 20, 2020.
But Duque reiterated that he had no say in the controversial IRM, and that the Senate Committee of the Whole, “made baseless findings on mere allegations alone.”
“I was impleaded on the IRM when I was not even part of the deliberation and did not sign the said resolution. Ni anino nu’ng aking pirma ay hindi makita,” he said.
Sotto maintained that in insisting that he does not have a hand in the implementation or IRM, Duque is practically “pleading guilty” to the malversation provision under the Revised Penal Code.
President Rodrigo Duterte’s continued trust in Duque also should not prevent the Department of Justice from filing charges against him, he added.
“Wala sa usapan ‘yung pinagtitiwalaan o hindi. Kahit na pinagtitiwalaan ka ng isang tao, kung ang mga ebidensiya o ang mga findings ng isang committee ay nakikita ganito, ganito ang mga ginawa mo, o ganito, ganito ang hindi mo ginawa, na pinipilit ni Secretary Duque na wala siyang kinalaman, hindi siya nakapirma,” Sotto said.
“Ang ine-expect ko, kapag nakita ng Pangulo ‘yung mga punto namin, magbabago ang pananaw ng Pangulo. Maaaring nagtitiwala pa rin siya pero may mga bagay na dapat mong harapin, na labag sa batas,” he added.
Resigned PhilHealth anti-fraud officer Thorsson Montes Keith earlier claimed that the PhilHealth “mafia,” composed of the executive committee, stole some P15 billion through fraudulent schemes, including those involving the IRM.