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Prez Duterte OKs raps vs Morales, other officials over PhilHealth fiasco

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte talks to the people after holding a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang on September 14, 2020. ACE MORANDANTE/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Monday approved the recommendation of a task force led by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to file administrative and criminal charges against resigned Philippine Health Insurance Corp. Ricardo Morales and its other officials over the alleged anomalies inside the state insurer.

The President read the recommendations of the Task Force PhilHealth during a late Monday night briefing with other Cabinet members.

“On the issue of PhilHealth and corruption, it is really an important issue to the Filipinos and to everybody. Everybody is again is placed in jeopardy by the action of the officials,” Duterte said.

Among those who will be criminally and administratively charged are former PhilHealth CEO Ricardo Morales, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer Jovita Aragona, Chief Operating Officer Arnel De Jesus, Senior Vice  President on Fund Management Sector Renato Limsiaco, Jr., Acting Senior Manager, Information Technology and Management Department Calixto Gabuya, Jr., and Senior Vice President on Health Finance Policy Sector Israel Pargas.

“I’m sorry for them, but they have to undergo a trial… Although they can always prove their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt,” he added.

Among the issues raised on PhilHealth are the early disbursement of cash advances to COVID-19 patients prior to its effectivity in June and the procurement of allegedly overpriced IT equipment.

The Senate also recommended charges against Health Secretary Francisco Duque, however, based on what Duterte read, he was not among those recommended to be charged by the task force.

In a statement, the DOJ said Task Force PhilHealth will still continue its probe on alleged fraudulent activities by officials of the agency while awaiting further directives from Duterte.

“As the Task Force awaits any further directives from the President, its composite teams will pursue further targeted investigations of specific acts of fraud or corruption committed by health providers and PhilHealth personnel alike,” the statement reads.

“Meanwhile, already pending complaints and cases shall be resolved by the agencies concerned with dispatch.”

A whistleblower earlier alleged that the PhilHealth executive committee pocketed some P15 billion in funds through several fraudulent schemes.

Morales resigned amid controversies hounding the embattled PhilHealth.

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