Ridding the government of corrupt officials remains one of President Rodrigo Duterte’s noteworthy…
Ending government corruption is a campaign promise and an oft-repeated commitment of President Rodrigo Duterte since he took office in June 2016. However, most of his anti-corruption efforts had been marked with sacking and recycling of officials.
In his State of the Nation Address (SONA) last year, half-way into his term, Duterte said “corruption is everywhere,” as he jokingly added that he “prays” an earthquake comes so when all congressmen, senators, and the president are killed “we will have a new day.”
A month later, Duterte replaced the president of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) following the massive health insurance fraud that rocked the agency. Retired Brigadier General Ricardo Morales succeeded Roy Ferrer, who was later “recycled” and appointed assistant secretary of the Department of Health.
Morales was given specific “marching orders to prioritize ridding the agency of corruption.” But after a year in office, when asked about his meeting with Duterte on the alleged corruption in his agency, the Philhealth president said it is “premature to go to the president without a solution.”
VERA Files Fact Check tracks the promises the president has made on corruption and good governance in his previous SONAs since 2016:
PROMISE: Prosecute those liable for Philhealth fraud issue
“I ordered the NBI to arrest and cause the prosecution of those liable. I appointed a new PhilHealth President...and gave him marching orders to prioritize ridding the agency of corruption...These culprits will have their day of reckoning in court.” (SONA 2019)
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has filed graft and other criminal charges against 21 Philhealth officials and employees involved in the fraud. However, at least four of the accused officials -- Cheryl Peña, doctors Rizza Majella Herrera and Bernadette Lico, and lawyer Recto Panti -- were reported to have been promoted to department manager III, according to an Inquirer report in June.
Quezon City-based WellMed Dialysis & Laboratory Center Corp. (WellMed) was tagged in the alleged dialysis claims for “ghost” kidney treatments. Its owner, Brian Sy, was arrested on charges of estafa, among others, on June 10, 2019. He was released six days later after posting bail.
In a June 2019 statement on its website, PhilHealth said five formal charges have been filed in its Arbitration Office since the ghost dialysis issue.
Due to the number and volume of transactions, Morales said there will be “inefficiencies.” To correct this, he said there is an ongoing “account reconciliation” with some associations of hospitals and doctors to check their finances, loans, as well as to identify who must pay whom.
Asked if the president was aware that Morales has yet to file a single case against Philhealth officials and employees involved in the alleged insurance fraud, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said an investigation on the matter is still "ongoing."
PROMISE: Clean out Bureau of Customs and PNP
“Concerning the unscrupulous persons manning our ports and scalawags in uniform, we have been unyielding in our reforms to weed them out of public service...There is no sacred cow, as the saying goes, in my Administration...I hope that I can have the cooperation of Congress if we cannot abolish their (BOC officials facing charges or being investigated for corruption) position. And if I cannot dismiss them for the reason that there is a security of tenure, I will just allow them to have their plantilla positions but they have to report to Congress everyday to help me in (sic) the huge paperwork that we have to do everyday.” (SONA 2019)
More than a hundred Bureau of Customs (BOC) employees are being investigated by the Ombudsman and NBI. At least 64 BOC officials were “relieve[d] of duty” due to corruption in July 2019. On August 15, 2019, Ombudsman Samuel Martires approved the dismissal of at least seven Customs officials.
Former BOC chief Isidro Lapeña, who was removed amid reports of smuggled billions worth of shabu, was reappointed to the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority as its current director general.
Two other BOC employees -- operations officer Lomontod Macabando and security guard Gamaloden Musor -- were also charged with graft by the NBI on March 11, 2020, following an alleged smuggling of jewelry from Dubai in 2018.
Retired Philippine National Police (PNP) chief General Oscar Albayalde, along with other involved cops, was indicted for graft on January 16, 2020, after Albayalde’s involvement with the 2013 Pampanga drug case, several news stories reported.
PROMISE: Simplify government processes
I reiterate...my directive to the government and instrumentalities (specifically LTO, SSS, BIR, LRA, and PAG-IBIG), including the LGUs and the government corporations: simplify...and make your services...client-friendly. (SONA 2019)
The Land Transportation Office (LTO) adopted a digital solution from German biometrics company Dermalog to fast-track processing requests through the digitalization and centralization of information. The new portal, which can accommodate over a million transactions per day, officially went live on May 18. The agency’s database, including registered driver’s licenses, vehicles, and penalties for road violations, is currently being updated for easier monitoring.
The Social Security System (SSS) has enabled the use of electronic channels to speed up transactions and services. Contributions can also now be paid through credit, debit, prepaid cards and PayMaya, an online payment platform.
At least two DILG memorandum circulars in compliance with the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Delivery Service Act of 2018 were issued to improve the delivery of services and simplify government transactions.
PROMISE: Reschedule barangay elections and enact Magna Carta for barangays
I also implore Congress…to postpone the May 2020 elections and ‘yung Barangay, Sangguniang Kabataan to October 2022...I suggest Congress should also enact the Magna Carta for Barangays. (SONA 2019)
Republic Act 11462, an act postponing the May 2020 barangay and sangguniang kabataan elections, had already been signed into law by the president on Dec. 3, 2019.
Meanwhile, lawmakers in both houses of congress have filed bills establishing a Magna Carta for barangays in 2019. House Bill 1452 has been pending with the committee on local government since July 24, 2019, while Senate Bills 391, or the Barangay Services Compensation Act, and 366, or the Magna Carta for Barangay Officials, have been pending in the committees on local government, ways and means, and finance since July 31, 2019.
PROMISE: Fast-track LGU's processing of business permits, clearances, among others
“I am directing [mayors and] also the DILG, Secretary Año of the local government[:] All clearances, permits emanating from your office that would need also (sic) your approval, must be out at the very least within three days.” (SONA 2019)
The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) in March jointly launched the National Business One Stop Shop (NBOSS), in which business registrations may be completed in “nine steps within seven and a half days from the current 13 steps in 33 days.”
NBOSS is a physical office located at the Securities and Exchange Commission in Pasay City.
The program complements the DICT’s Central Business Portal -- the first phase of which was launched in October 2019 -- an online platform meant to fast-track business-related transactions with national government agencies.
An ARTA advisory was also adopted in March to fast-track measures during the state of calamity brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. This aims to ensure the speedy delivery of basic medical supplies and equipment, and to cut red tape.
The Bureau of Local Government Finance also issued a circular mandating the use of electronic means to process transactions for LGUs that will use credit financing for additional funds to be used in COVID-19 response.
On prosecuting Philhealth officials
- ABS-CBN News, Court dismisses estafa raps vs WellMed owner, officers, Aug. 5, 2019
- ABS-CBN News, NBI files charges vs 21 PhilHealth execs over 'ghost' dialysis claims, Aug. 28, 2019
- CNN Philippines, Graft raps filed vs PhilHealth execs over ‘ghost dialysis’ mess, Aug. 28, 2019
- Department of Health, DR. ROY B. FERRER
- GMA News Online, 3 PhilHealth officials resign over alleged widespread corruption in agency, July 24, 2020
- Inquirer.net, 4 officials tagged in alleged PhilHealth scam get promotion, June 20, 2020
- Inquirer.net, PhilHealth pays for ghost kidney treatments, June 06, 2019
- Manila Bulletin, Three PhilHealth officials resign over corruption allegations, July 24, 2020
- Presidential Communications Operations Office, INTERVIEW WITH PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON HARRY ROQUE BY JOEL ZOBEL AND WENG DELA PEÑA – DOBOL B SA NEWS TV/DZBB, June 17, 2020
- Presidential Communications Operations Office, PUBLIC BRIEFING #LagingHandaPH HOSTED BY PCOO SECRETARY MARTIN ANDANAR AND PCOO UNDERSECRETARY ROCKY IGNACIO, June 22, 2020
- PhilHealth, OFFICIAL PRESS STATEMENT ON THE ISSUE OF GHOST DIALYSIS PATIENTS, June 6, 2019
- PhilHealth, PHILHEALTH DENOUNCES ONE SIDED REPORTING: ENSURES THE PUBLIC OF CONTINUED FIGHT AGAINST FRAUD, June 19, 2019
- PhilHealth, Retired Brigadier General is PhilHealth's New President and CEO, Aug. 8, 2019
- RMN, 3 opisyal ng PhilHealth, nagbitiw sa pwesto dahil sa natuklasang malawakang korapsyon, July 24, 2020
On cleaning out BOC and PNP
- ABS-CBN News, Customs chief faces usurpation raps for alleged illegal designation of officials, Aug. 1, 2019
- ABS-CBN News, DOJ indicts Albayalde, 12 'ninja' cops for graft over 2013 Pampanga drug raid, January 16, 2020
- ABS-CBN News, Duterte denies appointing new Customs chief, Jan. 14, 2020
- ABS-CBN News, Duterte says to ‘relieve’ 64 Customs employees due to corruption, July 11, 2019
- Bureau of Customs, Cluster Agency Bureau of Customs
- CNN Philippines, 64 BOC officials, employees relieved due to corruption allegations, July 14, 2019
- CNN.com, Customs chief accused of 'illegal' appointments, Aug. 1, 2019
- GMA News Online, Duterte fires Customs deputy commissioners, freezes department heads, Oct. 25, 2018
- Inquirer.net, BREAKING: DOJ indicts ex-PNP chief Albayalde for graft, Jan. 16, 2020
- Inquirer.net, Customs officials under probe may be preventively suspended — Martires, July 25, 2019
- Inquirer.net, Duterte denies report BOC chief Guerrero on his way out: ‘He stays there,’ Jan. 13, 2020
- Inquirer.net, Duterte: Guerrero to remain Customs chief, Jan. 15, 2020
- Inquirer.net, Lapeña out of Customs but named Tesda chief with Cabinet rank, Oct. 25, 2018
- Inquirer.net, Lapeña sacked as BOC chief amid ‘shabu’ smuggling row, Oct. 26, 2018
- Inquirer.net, Ombudsman orders dismissal of 7 Customs officials, Aug. 19, 2019
- Manila Standard, Customs chief faces graft raps, Aug. 2, 2019
- Office of the Ombudsman, Ombudsman orders probe on Customs officials, July 24, 2020.
- Philstar.com, 100 more Customs men being probed — official, July 28, 2019
- Philstar.com, DOJ indicts Albayalde for graft over ‘ninja cops,’ Jan. 17, 2020
- Philstar.com, NBI files graft case vs 2 Customs employees, March 13, 2020
- Philstar.com, Ombudsman orders dismissal of 7 Customs execs, Aug. 20, 2019
- Philippines News Agency (PNA), Guerrero stays in his post: PRRD, Jan. 14, 2020
- Rappler, Customs cleanup: 119 officials face administrative, criminal complaints, Aug. 20, 2019
- Rappler, DOJ wants graft charges vs Albayalde over Pampanga drug recycling case, Jan. 16, 2020
- Rappler, Ombudsman fires 7 Customs personnel, suspends 1, Aug. 19, 2019
- Reuters, Philippines' Duterte sacks all top customs officials over drugs, Oct. 25, 2018
- Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), Secretary’s Profile
On simplifying gov’t processes
- AutoIndustriya.com, You can now transact online at these following LTO offices, July 1, 2020
- Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Guidelines in the Integration of the Issuance of Barangay Clearance in the Permitting Processes of Cities and Municipalities (DILG Memorandum Circular 2019-177), Oct. 17, 2019
- Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Regulatory Reforms for LGUs in Compliance to EODB-EGSD Act of 2018 (DILGARTA Joint Memorandum Circular), Dec. 2, 2019
- Find Biometrics, Philippines Land Transportation Office Adopts DERMALOG Biometric Management System, May 19, 2020
- Land Transportation Office (LTO), Land Transportation Management System (LTMS) Portal
- National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), LTO opens online portal for payment of car registration, license application, June 8, 2020
- Official Gazette, An Act Promoting Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Delivery of Government Services, Amending for the Purpose Republic Act No. 9485, Otherwise Known as the Anti-red Tape Act of 2007, And for other purposes
- Philippine News Agency (PNA), Online transactions available in 24 LTO offices, June 30, 2020
- Social Security System (SSS), SSS to fast-track services thru e-channels, July 25, 2019
- Social Security System (SSS), SSS launches contribution payments through the SSS Mobile App with PayMaya; Paymaya is now SSS' newest collection partner, Dec. 19, 2019
- Wheels.ph, LTO launches online portal for student driver’s permit, driver’s license applications, June 10, 2020
On barangay elections, magna carta
- House of Representatives (HOR), House Bill no. 3760 or An Act Establishing the Magna Carta for Barangays
- Senate, Senate Bill No. 366 or MAGNA CARTA FOR BARANGAY OFFICIALS
- Senate, Senate Bill No. 391 or MAGNA CARTA FOR BARANGAY ACT OF 2019
- Official Gazette, Republic Act No. 11462
On fast-tracking LGU's processes
- Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA), Advisory for the Adoption of Fast-track Measures During the Covid-19 State of Calamity, March 25, 2020
- Bureau of Local Government Finance (BLGF), MEMORANDUM CIRCULAR NO. 007-2020, March 23, 2020
- Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), DICT moves to eliminate business registration red-tape, Oct. 10, 2019
- Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), Gov’t initiative to streamline business registration now operational, March 2, 2020
(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)