Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said on Thursday (Sept. 17) more composite teams will be formed to investigate anomalies in the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).

guevarra - Guevarra: more composite teams to be formed to probe PhilHealth anomalies
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra (TOTO LOZANO/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO /MANILA BULLETIN)

“We may create a few more,” said Guevarra, convenor of Task Force PhilHealth which investigated anomalies at the state health insurer.

On the other hand, the secretary said he has not yet determined how many composite teams will be created and what specific issues these will look into.

“We need to prioritize, lest we spread ourselves too thinly,” Guevarra pointed out.

At the moment, Guevarra said Task Force PhilHealth has created two composite teams which are currently investigating separately the government corporation’s information technology (IT) and legal sectors.

The secretary noted the composite team investigating the IT sector is comprised of members from the Department of Justice (DOJ), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) and the Office of the Special Assistant to the President (OSAP) in cooperation with the Commission on Audit (COA).

While, the composite team investigating the legal sector consists of members from the DOJ, NBI, OSAP, and the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) in cooperation with the COA.

Once retired NBI Director Dante Gierran takes his oath as PhilHealth president and chief executive officer, Guevarra earlier said the two composite teams will be given 30 days to wrap up their respective investigations.

The task force has already submitted last Monday to President Duterte its report on the initial findings of its investigation.

During the conduct of the investigation, Task Force PhilHealth focused on three issues: the approval and implementation of the Interim Reimbursement Mechanism (IRM); the approval of budgets for the purchase of information and communications technology (ICT) equipment; and corporate policies and practices that fail to check, investigate, prosecute and penalize the wrongdoing of PhilHealth personnel as well as health care institutions (HCIs) and professionals.

In its report, Task Force PhilHealth recommended the filing of criminal complaints for violating Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act against former PhilHealth PCEO Ricardo Morales; Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Amel De Jesus; Senior Vice President Jovita Aragona, Chief Information Officer and head of the Information Management Sector; Senior Vice President Renato Limsiaco Jr; Senior Vice President Israel Francis Pargas of the Health Financial Policy Sector; Officer in Charge Calixto Gabuya Jr.; and Division Chief Bobby Crisostomo.

The task force also recommended that Morales be also be filed with criminal complaints for violating provisions of the National Internal Revenue Code as well as for malversation of public funds or property and illegal use of public funds or property in violation of the Revised Penal Code (RPC).

Aside from Morales, the task force said Limsiaco should also be held liable for malversation of public funds or property under the RPC.

The task force said criminal complaints should also be filed against Aragona and Gabuya for frauds against the public treasury and similar offenses under the RPC.

It also recommended that administrative charges be filed against them for, among others, dishonesty, gross neglect of duty, grave misconduct, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.

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