DOJ chief urges other senior PhilHealth execs to go on leave

DOJ chief urges other senior PhilHealth execs to go on leave

MANILA – Department of Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra urged other officials of Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) implicated in the state insurer’s alleged anomalies to go on leave to give investigators a freehand in the ongoing probe.

In a message to reporters, Guevarra, who sits as convenor in the task force investigating PhilHealth, said six PhilHealth regional officials have already filed their leaves of absence.

“I am glad that the regional vice presidents of PhilHealth have voluntarily heeded my call for them to take a leave of absence while the investigations are going on, in order to preclude any suspicion that their presence may lead to a suppression of evidence and thus hamper the conduct of these investigations,” Guevarra said.

Two former officials of PhilHealth have agreed to disclose details of the anomalies hounding the state insurer, the DOJ earlier said.

“I hope that the officials at the PhilHealth main office who have already been tagged in the ongoing congressional inquiries in aid of legislation, as well as those identified by the PACC (Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission), would likewise take a temporary leave so that Task Force PhilHealth may freely perform its mandate,” he added.

PhilHealth is currently being investigated by the Senate and the task force led by the DOJ.

DOJ spokesperson Undersecretary Markk Perete said these officials who requested anonymity have informed the task force during its meeting on Friday of the different fraudulent schemes allegedly employed through the years by PhilHealth officers and employees, both in its main and regional offices, in collusion with some doctors and hospitals, and even banks, which act as remittance centers.

“These schemes include the payment of false or fraudulent claims against the corporation, malversation of premiums, and the exploitation by some unscrupulous personalities of the case rate system and the interim reimbursement mechanism, among others,” Perete said.

Guevarra said the scope of the task force’s work would include “the completion of any ongoing investigations or special audits, and resolution of any pending cases, regarding PhilHealth irregularities (which) will be expedited.”

The task force is composed of representatives of the Office of the Ombudsman, Commission on Audit, Civil Service Commission, PACC, Office of the Special Assistant to the President, Anti-Money Laundering Council, National Bureau of Investigation and National Prosecution Service. Benjamin Pulta / PNA –