Guevarra: ‘Big fish’ may be charged soon

    1222

    JUSTICE Secretary Menardo Guevarra yesterday said the task force created to probe anomalies at the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) may file cases against more officials of the state insurer this week.

    Guevarra, who heads TF PhilHealth, said the investigation continues even after the National Bureau of Investigation filed criminal charges on Friday last week against resigned PhilHealth president and chief executive officer Ricardo Morales, senior vice president Renato Limsiaco, executive vice president and chief operating officer Arnel de Jesus, and senior vice president Israel Pargas.

    He said “big fish” may be indicted soon.

    “As I have explained earlier we have just begun. We are still uncovering and gathering more evidence so that in the future some other ‘big fish’ may be caught. That is a possibility so we are not foreclosing that some other important people may be included,” he said.

    Also charged by the NBI last Friday were Gregorio Rulloda, vice president of PhilHealth’s National Capital Region office, and Imelda Trinidad de Vera-Pe, Lolita Tuliao, Gemma Sibucao, and Lailani Padua.

    Guevarra said the charges against these officials were in connection with the irregular distribution of funds under the interim reimbursement mechanism (IRM), overpriced procurement of information technology equipment, and anomalies in the legal sector.

    “Patuloy pa rin ang aming investigation at baka this week ay meron pa rin kaming pahabol na complaints in connection with IRM. Kasunond na rin niyan marahil ang ang complaints na aming ifa-file in connection with ICT procurement, at ganon din ang legal sector na tinignan din ng Task Force PhilHealth. So, we are probing these areas more deeply so we can gather sufficient evidence to back up proper complaints before the Ombudsman
    (Our investigation is ongoing and maybe this week we can file charges against other officials in connection with the IRM. That will be followed by the complaints we will file in connection with the ICT procurement and [anomalies] in the legal sector which Task Force PhilHealth looked into. So, we are probing these areas more deeply so we can gather sufficient evidence to back up proper complaints before the Ombudsman),” Guevarra told senators during the hearing of the P22.572 billion proposed budget for the Department of Justice and its attached agencies next year.

    He did not identify the officials to be charged.

    Guevarra said after the three main issues have been investigated, TF PhilHealth will next investigate the alleged fraud and corruption which reportedly happened in the past years.

    Earlier, Sen. Panfilo Lacson said the Senate can initiate the filing of charges against other PhilHealth officials, including Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, who is its chairman of the board, and Rodolfo del Rosario, senior vice president for legal sector, because they were found liable by the Senate Committee of the Whole for malversation of public funds or property.

    Duque and del Rosario were not among the PhilHealth officials charged by the NBI last Friday.

    Guevarra, reacting to Lacson, said lawmakers can file their own complaints against officials involved in alleged anomalies at PhilHealth.

    Nothing prevents the Senate or the House from initiating their own complaints against erring PhilHealth officials. Both the executive and legislative branches, representing the interests of the people, are duty-bound to rid any government agency or entity of corruption and wrongdoing,» Guevarra said.

    The task force had been given 30 days to submit its findings and recommendations to President Duterte, which it did on September 14. — With Ashzel Hachero