Duterte seeks Philhealth reorganization

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 9, 2019   •   2615

President Rodrigo Duterte seeks the reorganization of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) due to alleged corruption issues in the agency.

In a television guesting on Saturday (January 8), President Duterte said the P154 billion-worth of funds allegedly lost to anomalous PhilHealth claims is unacceptable.

“When I go back [to Manila], I’m making the announcement that I am maybe reshuffling the PhilHealth. For the sheer amount that was lost, I have to reorganize your entity,” he said.

The president also believes that the agency should be managed by a member of the military or a businessman to curb irregularities in collecting PhilHealth claims.

President Duterte also reiterated he trusts the integrity of PhilHealth acting president, Roy Ferrer.

“I do not have the slightest doubt about the integrity and honesty of Roy Ferrer,” he said.

The issue stemmed from a report made by Edwin Roberto, a former employee of WellMed Dialysis and Laboratory Center, that WellMed continues to file PhilHealth claims even after their patients have died.

Based on the initial investigation, the Dialysis Center had done the same mode of operation 28 times while 12 cases are still being verified by authorities.

According to Ferrer, there is an alleged “mafia” inside the agency which serves as an accomplice of several hospitals, clinics, and doctors engaged in said anomalous transactions.

“Gusto nila sila nandoon for more than 20 years (They want to stay [in PhilHealth] for more than 20 years) and now we are getting more and more whistle blowers that are coming out to bring forth what they are doing in their respective regions. Marami po mga tiwaling ginagawa po at iniimbestigahan na po natin ito, (there is a lot of corruption and investigations are underway),” he said.

Aside from the reshuffling, President Duterte has also ordered authorities to file charges against the owner of WellMed Dialysis and Laboratory Center and other involved government officials.(with reports from Joan Nano)

Duterte on purging corruption-ridden PhilHealth: ‘Yayariin ko kayo!’

Marje Pelayo   •   August 11, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – For the first time since the issue of corruption in the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) was revealed, President Rodrigo Duterte has spoken, warning all dishonest officials in the agency that he will definitely purge the institution.

“Huwag kayong magkakamali. Itong PhilHealth, sabi ko yayariin ko kayo. Maniwala kayo [Do not make a mistake. I tell you, those in PhilHealth. I will finish you off. Believe me],” he said during his public address aired on Monday night (August 10) referring to corrupt officials who managed to escape accountability during the previous administrations. 

As for those upright workers, the President said they have nothing to worry about and to continue working.

“Iyong mga inosente naman, wala kayong dapat na…Continue working, [Those who are innocent, you have nothing to worry about. Just continue working],” he added. 

Recently, the Chief Executive created a Task Force through the Department of Justice (DOJ) that will focus on investigating the transactions in PhilHealth starting with the auditing of its finances, conducting lifestyle checks among its officials and employees, and recommending preventive suspension, if necessary.

The Task Force is given 30 days to complete its report including its findings and recommendations and submit the same to the Office of the President.

The state insurer has been in hot waters due to allegations of corruption, specifically the ‘overpriced’ IT system project and the P15-B kickback from the agency’s public funds that were allegedly pocketed by its officials. –MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Senate probe will push through as PhilHealth chief requests for leave — Sotto

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 10, 2020

Senate President Vicente ‘Tito’ Sotto assured that the probe on the alleged corruption in the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) will push through amid the request of its president, Ricardo Morales, for a medical leave.

“It won’t stop our inquiry and other witnesses and testimonies from coming out. It won’t also stop the filing of charges against erring officials of PhilHealth if warranted,” he said.

Morales submitted his medical certificate stating that he cannot physically attend the Senate hearing due to his medical condition.

Meanwhile, the PhilHealth official lamented his privacy was not respected after his medical certificate was leaked to the public.

“As president and chief executive, it is my duty to represent the corporation while still physically capable. I regret that my privacy was not respected,” he said in a statement.

PhilHealth Executive Vice President and COO Arnel De Jesus also advised the Senate his inability to attend the said hearing due to a medical emergency. The Senate inquiry is scheduled for Tuesday (August 11).

Meanwhile, members of the Department of Information and Communications Technology will also attend the hearing to shed light on the issue of the alleged overpriced IT System budget of PhilHealth.

Sotto has also recommended putting the witnesses under the protection program of the Department of Justice. AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

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PhilHealth execs volunteer for a lifestyle check amid corruption controversy

Marje Pelayo   •   August 7, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Some executives and officers of the embattled Philippine Health insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) are willing to have their personal assets and lifestyle checked amid the ongoing investigation on the alleged corruption within their ranks.

“In a move to belie any allegations of corruption, PhilHealth’s Executive Committee (EXECOM) and some senior officers have volunteered themselves to lifestyle checks to be conducted by any authorized agency of government,” the concerned officials said through PhilHealth’s official Twitter account.

In a virtual press conference on Thursday (August 6), the state insurer’s executive committee explained in detail the agency’s side on each of the allegations raised by the resigned former anti-fraud officer, Thorsson Montes Keith.

One of Keith’s accusations against his former bosses involves an alleged P15 billion kickback from the agency’s IT project. 

During the press conference, PhilHealth Senior Vice President for Legal Sector Atty. Rodolfo del Rosario Jr. said these accusations are costing them their safety as they have been receiving death threats recently. 

“Without hearing our explanation they have already concluded. Ang daming galit na tao sa amin, galit sa PhilHealth (People are angry at us, at PhilHealth). Lahat negative comments (All have negative comments). We have been receiving death threats dahil dito sa mga kasinungalingan (because of these lies),” he said. 

Del Rosario said they are now preparing to file a lawsuit against Keith.

“We can show receipts of releases of the IRM (interim reimbursement mechanism) na hindi yan binulsa ng mga execom (that it was not pocketed by the execom). So the whole execom will file charges against him for libel,” he said.

Amid the controversy, PhilHealth’s Senior Vice President for Operations R/BGen. Augustus de Villa resigned citing family reasons.

“He said he wanted to spend more time with his family,” noted PhilHealth President R/Gen. Ricardo Morales.

“I respect his decision and I’m grateful for his candor and that was the reason he told me that he opted to resign from PhilHealth,” he added.

But for Morales, he will remain in his position as long as he has the trust of President Rodrigo Duterte despite the request of his family to leave the controversial institution. 

“We continue to operate and any corporation meron namang (has its ) redundancies yan. Nobody is indispensable, not even me,” the former general said.

“So far, the messages I have been getting is to stay. You know, retired na ako noong pumasok ako dito (I was already retired when I joined PhilHealth). I was living a happy, care-free life before I came here and then my friend, the President, asked me. Hindi ko siya matanggihan (I couldn’t turn him down) that’s why I’m here,” he added.

Morales stands strong that PhilHealth still has around P216 billion in its treasury and the fund is enough to sustain the agency for next year.

But of course, it is up to the national government to provide them with an additional budget. 

Ang reinsurer kasi ng Philhealth is the national government. So if iko-connect natin iyan, mauubusan ng pera ang PhilHealth kapag naubusan ng pera ang gobyerno (PhilHealth’s reinsurer is the national government. So if we are to connect them, PhilHealth will only lose fund if the government has no funds left),” Morales explained. 

Morales admitted that the agency is struggling in terms of funds since it has been shelling out huge amounts since the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak started while member contributions have slowed down due to the crisis.

In the previous hearings, House Committee on Public Accounts chair, Mike Defensor already asked for the statement of assets and liabilities and networth (SALN) of each PhilHealth executive and official to be presented for scrutiny in the next hearing. MNP (with details from Rey Pelayo)

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