Duterte task force on PhilHealth corruption to do lifestyle checks, says Go

Rose Carmelle Lacuata, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 11 2020 06:52 PM

MANILA - Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go on Tuesday said the task force that President Rodrigo Duterte created to investigate alleged corruption within the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) will also be conducting lifestyle checks on its officials.

Go said the task force will likewise recommend suspensions and even file cases against corrupt officials.

"We expect this task force to initiate true investigation, conduct audit, and lifestyle checks, recommend suspensions, prosecute and file cases, even dismissal po, and ensure that those accountable to be put in jail," he said.

PhilHealth chief Ricardo Morales welcomed the initiative, promising that the agency will cooperate with the task force.

"Magpapatuloy ho kaming magbibigay ng mga kailangan ninyong impormasyon sa PhilHealth at open din ho kami sa lifestyle check at sa kung ano mang imbestigasyon ang gagawin ng mga ahensiya ng gobyerno," he said.

(We will continue to provide the information needed, and we are open to lifestyle checks and any investigation that will be done by government agencies.)

President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the formation of a task force to investigate anomalies in PhiliHealth, Malacañang earlier said.

The task force will be headed by the Department of Justice, with members from the Office of the Ombudsman, Office of the Executive Secretary, Office of the Special Assistant to the President, the Civil Service Commission, the Commission on Audit, and the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC).

Aside from curative measures, Go said the government would also be transitioning to e-governance to prevent corruption from happening again within PhilHealth.

"In other words, kailangan ng preventive measures para hindi na ito mangyari pang muli. Isa na po rito ang transition natin to e-governance to minimize red tape and eliminate corruption. While your efforts to initiate IT reforms are commendable, kailangan ring siguraduhin natin that the transition itself is free from corruption," he explained.

(We need to implement preventive measures to ensure that this will not happen again. One is to transition to e-governance to minimize red tape and eliminate corruption. While your efforts to initiate IT reforms are commendable, we also have to ensure that the transition itself is free from corruption.)

Should PhilHealth succeed in transitioning to e-governance and eliminating corruption in the process, Go said it would be a model for other government agencies.

"Dahil kung magiging successful ang inyong initiative, magiging best practice ang tawag diyan at gagayahin ng ibang ahensiya sa pag-transition to e-governance," he said.

(If you become successful in your initiative, then it will be considered as best practice and will be a model for other agencies to transition to e-governance.)

"Pero kung sablay naman 'yan at nababalot ng korapsyon, imbes na maging best practice kayo, magiging test case lang kayo ng task force laban sa systematic corruption," Go added.

(However, if you fail and it is still marred by corruption, then instead of being considered as best practice, you'll be a test case by the task force against systemic corruption.)

Duterte earlier said he would go after PhilHealth officials who are involved in corrupt practices.

According to Duterte, he would make sure that erring officials would be held responsible.

He also advised those who are innocent to just stay put and continue working.

Morales, along with other officials, are being investigated by the Senate over their alleged involvement in anomalous transactions, including overpriced computers and other materials.

The PhilHealth chief has belied the allegations, saying several "corrupt officials" are trying to discredit the insurance firm's modernization program that would make flagging irregularities easier.

Morales, who was tasked by President Duterte to rid PhilHealth of corruption, is pushing to overhaul the agency's current information system to curb fraudulent activities.