President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the recommendations of a task force to file criminal and administrative charges against resigned Philippine Health Insurance Corp. president and CEO Ricardo Morales and several other executives in connection with irregularities in the state insurer.
No less than Duterte read the task force's recommendations on Monday night in a briefing with members of the Cabinet.
"I'm sorry for them but they will have to undergo trial," Duterte said.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the President approved the recommendations of the task force on PhilHealth.
Among those who will be charged criminally and administratively are Morales, Senior Vice President (SVP) Jovita Aragona, Officer in Charge Calixto Gabuya Jr., SVP Renato Limsiaco Jr., SVP Israel Pargas, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Arnel de Jesus, and Division Chief Bobby Crisostomo.
Morales, De Jesus, Limsiaco and Pargas were among those who were recommended to be charged by the Senate following its inquiry into irregularities in the PhilHealth.
The Senate also recommended charges against Health Secretary Francisco Duque III. He was not among those recommended to be charged by the task force.
A whistle blower tagged Duque as "the godfather" of the PhilHealth mafia, an allegation Duque had denied.
Duterte in a briefing publicly told Duque not to resign despite the recommendation made by the Senate.
On a number of occasions, Duterte said he would not tolerate "a whiff of corruption" in his government.
The Department of Justice said the task force submitted its report to Duterte earlier on Monday.
The specific recommendations were as follows:
- The filing of criminal charges against the following persons in relation to various ICT procurement including the concealment of important information in relation thereto, violation of Section 3A, Republic Act 3019 against Aragona, Gabuya, and Crisostomo
- The filing of charges over violation of Section 3A, Republic Act 3019 against Morales, Aragona, and Gabuya
- The filing of charges over violation of Section 3G, Republic Act 3019 against Morales, Aragona, Gabuya, and PRO-NCR personnel
- The filing of charges over violation of Article 213 of the Revised Penal Code against Morales, Aragona, and Gabuya
- The filing of charges in relation to the disbursement of Interim Reimbursement Mechanism (IRM) funds prior to the effectivity of the pertinent circular and malversation of public funds of property against Morales and Limsiaco Jr.
- The filing of charges over violation of Section 3A, Republic Act 3019 against Morales, De Jesus, Limsiaco, and Pargas
- The filing of charges in relation to the release of IRM funds despite the lack of sufficient standards of implementation against Pargas
- The filing of charges in relation to the non-withholding taxes of the IRM fund disbursement, violation of Section 251, 255, 272 of the National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC) as well as the violation of Republic Act 1061 against Morales and Limsiaco
- The filing of charges for violation of Section 256 of the NIRC against PhilHealth Corp.
Raps were also urged against Morales, De Jesus, Aragona, Limsiaco, Gabuya, and Crisostomo for their dishonesty, gross neglect of duty, grave misconduct, falsification of official document, disloyalty to the Republic of the Philippines and to the Filipino, the inefficiency and incompetence in the performance of official duties, and of conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.
“The filing of administrative charges against the following persons in relation to the above described action or omission is likewise recommended,” the report read.
Meanwhile, the task force urged Duterte to “strongly admonish and remind” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and other ex-officio members of the PhilHealth board of the “grave consequences of action or inaction.”
A whistleblower earlier alleged that the PhilHealth executive committee pocketed some P15 billion in funds through several fraudulent schemes.
Morales resigned amid controversies hounding the state health insurer. —NB/KG, GMA News