The Department of Health (DOH) has vouched for the integrity of five of its officials who were preventively suspended by the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) due to the supposed late release of benefits of medical frontliners amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

verg - DOH vouches for officials’ integrity after suspension by Ombudsman
Health Assistant Secretary Maria Rosario S. Vergeire

“We are supporting our five officials. These officials had been with us for decades already. Nagbigay na sila ng sakripisyo, commitment. And integrity-wise, sila ay mapagkakatiwalaan [We are supporting our five officials. These officials had been with us for decades already. They have made sacrifices, commitment. And integrity-wise, they are trustworthy],” said DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.

“Ang hiling lang namin sana ay mapabilis ang pagresolba ng kaso para magkaroon na ng resolusyon… matapos na. At kung sakaling mapatunayan na wala naman talagang issues and kasalanan or violations then our officials can go back to their work [We are appealing that the resolution of this matter will be hastened. And if it is proven that there are no wrongdoings or violations, then our officials can go back to their work],” she added.

On Tuesday, Ombudsman Samuel Martires ordered a six-month preventive suspension without pay against the five officials.

These are Undersecretary Roger Tong-An, Assistant Secretaries Kenneth Ronquillo and Maylene Beltran, Administrative Services Director Laureano Cruz, and Personnel Services Director Esperanza Carating.

“Itong preventive suspension….this isn’t a penalty. This is a process legally na ginagawa para ma-facilitate ang pagiimbestiga ng walang impluwensya ng mga taong nasasakdal [This preventive suspension….this is not a penalty. This is a process that is legally done to facilitate the investigation without the influence of those being accused],” noted Vergeire.

“Ang Kagawaran ng Kalusugan ay laging bukas sa mga imbestigasyon na gagawin at kung ano po ang kailangan, tayo ay mag-abide sa proseso ng gobyerno [The Department of Health is always open to investigations, we will abide by the processes of the government],” she added.

House panel recommendation

The DOH also assured that it will continue to cooperate with the investigations after a panel of the Lower House approved a recommendation to file criminal charges against some government officials, including Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, in connection with the alleged irregularities at the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).

“The Secretary has always mentioned na bukas tayo sa anumang imbestigasyon na kailangan gawin based on the process of the government. Naga-abide tayo kung anuman kailangan nilang kooperasyon galing sa Department of Health, kay Secretary Duque para lumabas ang katotohanan [The Secretary has always mentioned that we are open to any investigation that needs to be done based on the process of the government. We will abide and cooperate with whatever they will be needing from the Department of Health and Secretary Duque so that the truth will come out],” she said.

The state-health insurer also echoed the same pronouncement with regards to the matter.

“PhilHealth shall continue to cooperate (with) the investigating authorities to help bring out only the truth to exonerate the innocent and for the guilty to suffer the full force of law,” the agency said in a statement.

“PhilHealth shall await for the official report of the House Committees on Public Account and Good Government and Public Accountability chaired by Rep. Mike Defensor so it can properly respond to the issues raised against the Agency,” it added.

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