Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra. (File photo)
MANILA – Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Wednesday said his office is awaiting the formal request from the Senate to place individual whistleblowers in the ongoing investigation of alleged anomalies in the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (Philhealth) under the government’s witness protection program.
“We are awaiting the Senate’s formal request. We shall immediately evaluate upon receipt,” Guevarra said in a message to reporters.
On Monday, the team from the Department of Justice (DOJ) met to discuss organizational matters and the operational strategy for task force PhilHealth and has scheduled a conference with the other members of the task force on Friday afternoon.
“We are presently inviting certain resource persons to give us a briefing on alleged irregularities at PhilHealth so that we may clearly identify and prioritize the work to be done,” Guevarra said.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier directed the DOJ to form a task force to investigate “massive corruption” within the PhilHealth.
The task force is also mandated to make an audit of the PhilHealth finances and do lifestyle checks on the state insurer’s officials and employees.
Under the terms of the President’s directive, during the course of the investigation, if warranted, the panel may recommend to Duterte the preventive suspension of any PhilHealth official to ensure the unhampered investigation.
Members of the task force include the Office of the Ombudsman, Commission on Audit, Civil Service Commission, the Office of the Executive Secretary, the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission, and the Office of the Special Assistant to the President.
Resigned PhilHealth anti-fraud legal officer Thorsson Montes Keith claimed that around PHP15 billion of the agency’s funds have been allegedly pocketed by PhilHealth officials.
PhilHealth acting senior vice president Nerissa Santiago also admitted that PhilHealth could go bankrupt in 2021 due to the decreased collections and increased payouts for the health expenses of its members due to the coronavirus disease crisis. (PNA)