Charges against Secretary Francisco Duque III were almost up. Financial anomalies had been discovered whilst he was the Chairman of the Department of Health of the Philippines. Billions of funds released to PhilHealth (Philippine Health Insurance Corporation). Oddly, the multi-agency task force did not file charges against Duque. Philippines President, Rodrigo Duterte himself revoked the recommendations.
Senate President Vico Sotto III expressed astonishment that the investigations did not include Duque in PhilHealth mess. He said that it would be almost impossible for Duque not to be included in the complicit acts. Duque clarified that he unaware of it. He mentioned that he had not signed the contract to release the funds. Sotto added that as Chairman of DOH, Duque should not plead ignorance. He added that he should have had a better understanding of what was going on under him. Afterall, Duque’s statement practically admits guilt towards Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code, emphasizing “negligence” upon his job.
Senator Risa Hontiveros expressed her disappointment at the exclusion of Duque in the investigation. The investigations only included seven of the executives of PhilHealth, including Former President and CEO Ricardo Morales. Her findings dubbed Duque as a “Godfather” of Philhealth’s illegal involvement. She has called for reinvestigation. Duque has been denied all assertions as mere allegations.
President Duterte Weighs In on the Health Fund Scandal
President Duterte, who opposes corruption in his government, instructed Duque not to resign. This even after senate recommendations against him. Hinting at the scandal, President Duterte publicly stated that negligence is part and parcel of managing large organisations. Department of Justice Spokesperson Undersecretary Markk Perete explained that the law needs particular proof that shows inexcusable negligence. The negligence that Duque is guilty off has not reached the levels chargeable under the law.
Department of Justice recommended no charges against Duque. Sotto went on saying that perhaps the Ombudsman has a better perspective of the PhilHealth anomaly.
Politics in the Philippines is uncertain. One certainty is that the pandemic has affected all Filipinos. As a result, many are suffering financially and physically. A scandal of this nature and magnitude is a heavy blow to the downtrodden populace. The corruption that lurks behind the health organisation is risking the lives of Filipinos. Should we blame the head that denies the wrongdoings? Or should we blame the body that’s reacting upon itself?
Author: Edward Ian Benito