MANILA – A Palace official on Wednesday said President Rodrigo Duterte has to be presented with enough evidence of corruption to fire Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and other Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) officials.

In an interview over PTV-4, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said the Task Force PhilHealth is being careful when it comes to investigating alleged corruption within the state insurer.

“Kailangan ‘yun ay backed up by documents, paper trail. Kasi sasabihin mo,’yan sangkot ‘yan dito, iyan nagre-release ng ganito, kung salita lang, pero wala naman sa dokumento, wala sa papel, eh idi-dismiss lang ‘yan ng hukuman (It should be backed by documents, paper trail. Because if you say they’re involved, they released this much, if they’re all talk, no documents, no papers, then it will be dismissed by the court),” he said.

On Monday, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the task force is set to release its report on the probe into alleged anomalies hounding the state firm including possible administrative and criminal charges against erring officials by Sept. 14.

“By September 14, we (the task force) should be able to submit to you (President Duterte) our report and findings including administrative and/or criminal cases against persons in PhilHealth who shall be found to be responsible for anomalies or irregularities,” Guevarra said in a televised meeting with Duterte.

He said the task force ended its probe Monday but the various composite teams would continue building up possible cases, if warranted, that could stand in court.

In the meantime, he said the task force will provide a bird’s eye view of the problem within the state insurer.

On Aug. 7, Duterte ordered Guevarra to lead the task force mandated to conduct an investigation into the supposedly widespread corruption within PhilHealth.

The task force has been given 30 days to conclude its investigation and submit its findings and recommendations to Duterte’s office.

Duterte vowed to use his remaining years in office in cleaning PhilHealth and punish officials involved in illicit activities.

The Senate committee of the whole earlier recommended the filing of criminal charges against Duque, ex-officio chair of PhilHealth and others over the alleged massive corruption in the state insurer.

However, Duterte expressed full trust and confidence in Duque, saying he believes that the DOH chief was not corrupt.

“As of now, I have full… I said there’s a — there’s an investigation going on. Let it be if you are not guilty of corruption,” he said. (PNA)