Expediting raps vs PhilHealth execs pushed
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.