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DOJ to form another team for PhilHealth investigation

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The Department of Justice (DOJ) plans to form a third composite team to investigate anomalies in connection with the finances of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).

In a message to reporters, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said this composite team would focus on PhilHealth's financial management and issues like "window dressing of financial statements".

Window dressing refers to actions taken or not taken prior to issuing financial statements to improve their appearance.

Two composite teams have already been formed by Task Force PhilHealth to tackle issues arising from the firm's IT (information technology) system and its legal sector.

Each team has a representative from the DOJ, the National Bureau of Investigation, Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission, and the Office of the Special Assistant to the President with cooperation from the Commission on Audit (COA).

On Wednesday, Guevarra said the teams have a month to submit the results of their probe, including the possible liability of some individuals. Their probe would start once PhilHealth president and chief executive officer Dante Gierran assumes office.

The initial report submitted by the Task Force PhilHealth to President Duterte on Monday concluded that the totality of the evidence “supports the reasonable conclusion that wrongful acts or omissions on the part of certain key corporate officers of PhilHealth have been committed”.

It added that such negligence gives rise to both administrative and criminal liability under the following: (1) Republic Act (RA) No. 3019 for Graft and Corrupt Practices Act; (2) the Revised Penal Code for Malversation of Public Funds or Property and Illegal Use of Public Funds or Property; and Gross Misconduct and Gross Neglect of Duty, among others, under Civil Service laws.

The task force also noted that the failure to withhold taxes constitutes a violation of the National Internal Revenue Code.

"While it found the Board negligent in some of its decisions, the Task Force nevertheless noted that such negligence was “mitigated by the active concealment of vital documents and the apparent misrepresentation by those who have sought the Board’s approval,” the report said.

The task force has initially recommended the filing of criminal complaints against some PhilHealth officials

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