Duterte lauds Ombudsman for handling PhilHealth corruption cases

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 22) – President Rodrigo Duterte praised Ombudsman Samuel Martires for aiding the investigations on corruption cases involving state health insurer Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).

"I find Martires a very reasonable man, pero 'yung naglabas 'yung PhilHealth na sunod sunod sabi ko na, (but when cases involving PhilHealth came out, I said,) 'Well I think he is also really trying his best to help us,'" said Duterte during the weekly Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases meeting on Monday.

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

Duterte approved the recommendation of the Department of Justice-led investigating task force to file complaints against PhilHealth officials involved in the early disbursement of cash advances to COVID-19 patients prior to its effectivity in June and the procurement of allegedly overpriced IT equipment.

The President also highlighted the good relationship between the Office of the Ombudsman and the Executive Department.

"If you would notice the fact that at no other time, the rapport of the Ombudsman and the Executive Department, they have a good relationship. It's a matter of human relations," added Duterte in his address.

Duterte's remarks came after the Ombudsman declared new restrictions on the public's access to the statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALNs) of government officials.

The amended guidelines were released after reporters began requesting copies of Duterte's 2018 and 2019 SALNs; both documents have yet to be published.

"I do not know him. But if that is the kind of reception we get from him, it's a matter of human niceties. I'd like to thank you for that. We need that kind of relationship with the Ombudsman," stressed Duterte.