MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday said it was “very grateful” that Health Secretary Francisco Duque III was excluded from the filing of charges in connection with the alleged anomalies within the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).
In an online press briefing, DOH Undersecretary and spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire reiterated that it would be difficult to have a change of leadership within the health department while in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We welcome it, we are very grateful,” Vergeire said.
“Nagpapasalamat po kami sa ating Pangulo no na nabigyan ng ganitong trust ang ating secretary,” she added. “As we always say, mahirap po ang magpalit ng ating mga liderato pag nasa gitna ng sitwasyon sa ating pandemic.”
(We are thankful to the President that he has given this trust to our secretary. As we always say, it is hard to change leadership especially when we are in the middle of a pandemic.)
It was on Monday when President Rodrigo Duterte approved the recommendation of the Department of Justice-led Task Force PhilHealth to file charges against former PhilHealth president and CEO Ricardo Morales, Senior Vice President Jovita Aragona, officer-in-charge Calixto Gabuya Jr., SVP Renato Limsiaco, SVP Israel Francis Pargas, COO Arnel de Jesus, and division chief Bobby Crisostomo for violating several provisions of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and Article 213 the Revised Penal Code.
Senators, who also conducted their own inquiry into the alleged irregularities within PhilHealth, recommended the filing of charges against Duque, Morales, and several other top-ranking officials of the state health insurer.
According to the report of the Senate Committee of the Whole, it recommended the filing of charges against Duque over the “illegal” release of billions of funds through PhilHealth’s interim reimbursement mechanism (IRM).
Asked what was Duque’s reaction on the filing of charges against the former and current PhilHealth officials, Vergeire said: “Lagi namang sinasabi ni Secretary Duque na bukas yung tanggapan namin pati ang PhilHealth sa anumang mga imbestigasyon na gagawin para malalaman natin ang totoo.”
(Secretary Duque has always sad that our department and PhilHealth has always been open for an investigation to know about the truth.)
“Kung saka-sakaling mapapatunayan sa proper court of law na talagang may mga issues tayo or gaps ang ating mga opisyal, eh di yung mga nararapat na sanctions ay dapat ibigay,” Vergeire added. “So suportado ito ni Secretary Duque.”
(If the proper court of law proves that there were gaps or issues involving our officials, then the proper sanctions must be filed. This is supported by our secretary.)
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