Ex­pe­dit­ing raps vs PhilHealth ex­ecs pushed

Daily Tribune (Philippines) - - PAGE THREE - BY MJ BLANCAFLOR @tri­bunephl_MJB

Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte is hop­ing that Om­buds­man Sa­muel Mar­tires would fast-track the fil­ing of charges against Philip­pine Health In­sur­ance Corp. (PhilHealth) of­fi­cials who are al­legedly linked to multi-bil­lion-peso cor­rup­tion within the firm, the Palace said Tues­day.

“The Pres­i­dent is be­liev­ing, and trust­ing, that Om­buds­man Mar­tires will even­tu­ally file the cor­re­spond­ing charges against those who should be pe­nal­ized,” pres­i­den­tial spokesper­son Harry Roque said in a Palace brief­ing.

Pres­i­dent Duterte, in his speech Mon­day night, com­mended Mar­tires — whom he called a “very rea­son­able” man — for “try­ing his best” to aid the ad­min­is­tra­tion in re­solv­ing cor­rup­tion cases in PhilHealth.

He also pointed out the good rap­port be­tween the Om­buds­man and the Ex­ec­u­tive depart­ment.

“I find Mar­tires a very rea­son­able man, but when cases in­volv­ing PhilHealth came out, I said, ‘Well, I think he is also re­ally try­ing his best to help us,’” Duterte said.

The Pres­i­dent, how­ever, clar­i­fied that he was not try­ing to in­flu­ence the de­ci­sion of the anti­graft body on the PhilHealth case.

“We just want to ex­pe­dite and cut the de­lay be­cause that’s re­ally the strat­egy of a lawyer to pro­long the case, un­til such time na yung com­plainant would lose air. But this Philhealth is dif­fer­ent be­cause the gov­ern­ment is in­ter­ested,” he said.

The Of­fice of the Om­buds­man has or­dered the sus­pen­sion of 13 PhilHealth of­fi­cials stem­ming from an old com­plaint, amid the on­go­ing probe into cor­rup­tion al­le­ga­tions hound­ing the in­sur­ance firm.

Duterte re­cently en­dorsed the fil­ing of ad­min­is­tra­tive and crim­i­nal com­plaints against former PhilHealth pres­i­dent Ri­cardo Mo­rales and sev­eral other high-rank­ing of­fi­cials over al­leged anom­alies based on the ini­tial re­sults of the probe of an in­ter-agency panel he had cre­ated.

The Pres­i­dent’s com­men­da­tion of Mar­tires came af­ter the Om­buds­man re­stricted the pub­lic’s ac­cess to the State­ments of As­sets, Li­a­bil­i­ties and Net Worth (SALN) of state of­fi­cials — a move seen by me­dia groups as a hin­drance on gov­ern­ment trans­parency. Re­porters have been re­quest­ing copies of Pres­i­dent Duterte’s SALN in 2018 and 2019, both of which have yet to be pub­li­cized.

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