President Duterte has lauded Ombudsman Samuel Martires for trying his best to hasten the probe on the alleged corruption in the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).

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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 Arcadia Active Lifestyle Center in Davao City on September 21, 2020. ARMAN BAYLON/ PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

The President said he appreciates the good rapport between the executive branch and the Office of the Ombudsman, describing Martires as a “very reasonable man.”

“I like to commend, it’s a very commendable act of the Ombudsman in trying to go out and help,” Duterte said during his public address on state television Monday night. 

“I don’t know him. Siguro kung ganun ang nakuhang mong reception sa kanya (Maybe if that’s the reception we got), it’s a matter of human niceties and I’d like to thank you for that. We need that kind of relationship with the Ombudsman,” he said.

With the help of the Ombudsman, Duterte said “we can really expedite” the corruption probe on the PhilHealth.

The President also made clear that he was not trying to influence how the Ombudsman will make a decision on the PhilHealth case.

“We do not really go to him to ask for a decision either for or against anybody,” he said.

“We just want to expedite and cut the delay because that’s really the strategy of a lawyer to prolong the case, until such time na yung complainant nawalaan ng hangin. But this Philhealth, iba ito kasi interesado ang gobyerno (But this PhilHealth is different because the government is interested),” he said.

The Office of the Ombudsman earlier ordered a six-month suspension of several PhilHealth officials amid the ongoing investigation into the the state firm.

Duterte recently endorsed the filing of administrative and criminal complaints against former PhilHealth president Ricardo Morales and several other high ranking officials over alleged anomalies based on the initial results of the probe of an inter-agency panel. The group led by the Department of Justice is expected to continue the PhilHealth probe and determine any accountability of other officials.

Duterte said he appreciates the Ombudsman’s actions in relation to the PhilHealth investigation.

“At no other time, the rapport ng Ombudsman pati ng Executive department, maganda ang pagsamahan (At no other time, the rapport of the Ombudsman and the executive department is good). It’s because of the, it’s a matter of human relations, how you to present problems and try to ask his help,” he said.

“I find (Martires) a very reasonable man. ‘Yung naglabas ng PhilHealth na sunod-sunod (With the decisions on PhilHealth), well he is also trying his best to help us. Kung ganun ang sitwasyon (If that’s the situation), we are better off at least for now,” he said. 

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