Former PhilHealth officer reveals P15-B ‘stolen’ by ‘mafia’

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 4, 2020   •   425

Former PhilHealth Anti-Fraud Legal Officer Atty. Thorsson Montes Keith revealed that around P15 billion had been ‘stolen’ by so-called ‘mafia’ in the agency.

During a Senate hearing on Tuesday (August 4), Keith called the alleged massive corruption in the agency as ‘the crime of the year’.

Ang aking natuklasan sa PhilHealth ay matatawag ko na krimen ng taon, (What I discovered in PhilHealth can be called the ‘crime of the year’), he said. “Naniniwala po ako, base sa aking imbestigasyon, ang perang nawaldas at o ninakaw ay humigit kumulang P15 billion (I believe, based on my investigation, the money spent or stolen reached around P15 billion).”

Keith cited the supposed corruption over PhilHealth’s allegedly overpriced IT system which prompted his resignation with other agency officials.

He also revealed that PhilHealth CEO and President Ricardo Morales has ordered him to talk with Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) Commissioner Greco Belgica to fix the issue of overpriced COVID-19 testing kits.

Ang dahilan kung bakit hindi natatapos ang korapsyon sa PhilHealth, at naging kutlura na po ito, ay ang pagtatalaga o ang paglalagay ng mga sindikato o mafia ng kanilang kasamahan, kasabwat or kapwa sindikato sa matataas na posisyon na nakakatulong sa kanilang iligal na operasyon (The reason why corruption has not been curbed in PhilHealth, and has become a culture, is the appointment or designation of syndicates or mafia, the fellow cohorts in a high position that helps in their illegal operation),” he added.

Morales has not yet directly responded to the new allegations but had previously denied there is corruption in PhilHealth. -AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

Employees ask for ‘caretaker’ as PhilHealth faces corruption probe

Marje Pelayo   •   August 11, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Employees of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) are asking President Rodrigo Duterte to appoint somebody of expertise who will supervise them as the investigation on the alleged corruption within the agency progresses. 

“We are calling on President Duterte to put an in-charge caretaker. A caretaker who is an expert in healthcare, financing, and social health insurance and with proven integrity and incorruptibility,” asked Maria Fe Francisco, National President of PhilHealth’s Workers for Hope, Integrity, Transparency, and Empowerment (PhilHealth-WHITE).

Francisco stressed, however, that that person shouldn’t be the Secretary of the Department of Health. 

“Further in our call we also stated that it cannot be the Secretary of Health, Secretary Duque who is the chairman of the board of PhilHealth because he himself is under investigation in several instances, in several venues,” she said as PhilHealth needs an officer-in-charge now that PhilHealth President Ricardo Morales is on leave.

The group noted the impact of the controversy on their morale as employees, that is why they are asking their executives and officials to heed the call for them to go on leave while the investigation is underway for the sake of impartiality. 

The employees also want to be enlightened on why several officials of the agency have been saying that PhilHealth only has a year to go when all of them believe it can still run for at least 10 more years.

“Ganoon ba kalala na ang problema sa Philhealth [Was PhilHealth’s problem that serious]? We felt betrayed because we’ve talked about it half our lives. We’re already with Philhealth. Dito na kami tumanda [This is where we aged],” she said.

Na-invest na namin ang aming career dito sa [We’ve invested our careers here at] Philhealth and all of a sudden we will learn during the investigation na hanggang 2021 na lang ang PhilHealth [that PhilHealth will exist only until 2021],” she added.

Speaking on behalf of the employees, Francisco said they believe that the irregularity lies on the level of some hospitals that have been abusing the agency’s casa-rate system. 

Dito nangyayari ang up-casing. A simple case of acute respiratory infection na dapat P4,000 lang ang case, ginagawang medium risk pneumonia na P19,000 ang paid coverage ng Philhealth [That’s when an up-casing happens. A simple case of acute respiratory infection which is supposedly covered for only P4,000 is being upgraded to medium risk pneumonia with a paid coverage of P19,000 from PhilHealth],” she explained.

The group says such a program or scheme is actually good and beneficial but it needs a strong safeguard to keep it free from corruption and irregularities.MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

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)

Duterte orders DOJ to form task force to probe alleged corruption in PhilHealth

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 7, 2020

President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the Department of Justice (DOJ) to form a task force to investigate the alleged corruption in PhilHealth.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Friday (August 7) said the President already issued a memorandum to Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra to form a task force and file appropriate charges against officials proven to be involved in corruption.

The task force will also have the authority to audit PhilHealth finances, conduct lifestyle checks, and impose preventive suspensions of officials. The DOJ can also require other government agencies to assist in the investigation.

Si President is exasperated. Gusto na niyang matigil itong korupsyon sa PhilHealth, at gusto na niya na may ngipin itong task force na binuo niya. Ang mensahe po sa mga buwaya ng PhilHealth, tapos na po ang maliligayang araw ninyo diyan (The President is exasperated. He wants to curb the corruption in PhilHealth and he wants this task force to have teeth. To the corrupt officials in PhilHealth, your happy days are over),” he said.

The task force will have 30 days after its formation to submit its findings and recommendation to the Office of the President.

Meanwhile, Malacañang assures that the government will not allow the PhilHealth funds to run out. This is amid reports that the agency’s actuarial life is only for one year, instead of 10 years.

Kung hindi po sapat, gbyerno po talaga ang magdadagdag ng budget galing sa kaban ng bayan (If funds will not suffice, the government will supplement the budget),” Roque said. AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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