Lizada says CSC chair issued guidance to withhold info on PhilHealth officials’ cases
Marje Pelayo • August 25, 2020 • 208
MANILA, Philippines — Some information on cases involving officials of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) are allegedly being withheld.
This was revealed during the hearing on Tuesday (August 25) by the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability and the House Committee on Public Accounts on the alleged corruption within the agency.
The lawmakers initially asked officials of the Civil Service Commission (CSC) who were present at the hearing regarding cases that have been filed with the agency against PhilHealth executives .
CSC Assistant Commissioner Ariel Ronquillo was not able to provide a specific number of cases so the lawmakers asked Commissioner Aileen Lizada.
The official said there have been 74 cases filed in the CSC Central Office since 2010.
Of the said number, 19 are pending including the ones involving high ranking PhilHealth officials.
The panel questioned Ronquillo why he was not able to give the information when he was supposed to be the representative of CSC Chairperson Alicia del Rosa-Bala in the hearing.
Lizada then revealed that there was an instruction from the CSC Chairperson not to give out any information about the PhilHealth officials’ cases.
“If my recollection serves me right: ‘This information should not be made public nor be given out to anyone who would be asking either in aid of legislation or investigation,’ parang ganun. Iyon ang natatandaan ko, (Something like that. That’s what I remember),” said Lizada.
But according to Ronquillo, the instructions were to keep the information confidential.
“[The] instruction of the chair was to ensure that this matter will be kept confidential and not to be shared to the public, but will be shared if needed in any of the investigations being conducted concerning PhilHealth. So there is no guidance to suppress evidence,” he said.
Lizada said her office is conducting an inventory of all cases after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered a task force to investigate the alleged anomalies in the state insurer.
The House panel will resume its inquiries for the CSC in the next hearing on Thursday where CSC Chairperson Bala has been invited for a chance to respond to the queries.
Meanwhile, the audio recording of the meeting where the said guidance was mentioned has been subpoenaed to shed light on Commissioner Lizada’s claim that there had been an order not to disclose information about PhilHealth officials’ cases with the CSC. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)
MANILA, Philippines — Atty. Dante Gierran of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) insisted on Tuesday (January 26) that there is no truth that the agency is missing billions of pesos to irregularities and corruptions.
In August 2020, resigned PhilHealth Anti-Fraud officer Atty. Thorrsson Montes Keith made headlines for divulging alleged anomalies within the agency and claimed that around P15-billion was missing in the state insurer’s fund.
According to Gierran, they are finalizing the liquidation report as to where the said fund had been used.
“Sa ngayon po, 92 percent na ang fully liquidated. So kaunti na lang (So far, 92 percent (of the amount) has been liquidated. Only a small amount to go),” the PhilHealth CEO and President said.
As for the delays in the payment of the agency’s debts to the Philippine Red Cross and other healthcare providers, Gierran explained that, like any other government agency, PhilHealth’s operation is also deeply affected by the current pandemic.
Aside from being undermanned, Geirran said incomplete documents from claim applicants are also delaying their validation process.
“One of the reasons of the delay, of course, we are under the covid regime,” he explained.
“Lahat tayo napipinsala, mga kilos natin (We are all affected, our operations.) We are less liberated,” he concluded. –MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)
MANILA, Philippines – House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco on Thursday said he has filed two separate bills seeking to grant the president the power to suspend the scheduled increases in the contribution rates of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) and the Social Security System (SSS) in times of national emergencies.
In a statement, Velasco said his twin measures propose to amend Republic Act (RA) 11223 or the Universal Health Care Act, and RA 11199 or the Social Security Act of 2018, which provide for gradual increases in monthly premium contributions in PhilHealth and SSS, respectively.
The bills authorize the president to suspend the implementation of the scheduled increases in premium rates in times of national emergencies “when public interest so requires.”
But this should be in consultation with the secretaries of health and finance departments as chairpersons of PhilHealth and SSS, respectively.
The measures were filed after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the suspension of the premium rate increase.
Velasco said RA 11223 was enacted in 2018 to ensure that all Filipinos are guaranteed equitable access to quality and affordable health care goods and services, and protected against financial risk.
He said the intent of the law is clear and cannot be overemphasized—Filipinos need and deserve a comprehensive set of health services that are cost-effective, of high quality, and responsive.
The House speaker, however, stressed that the current situation is extraordinary and that Congress must respond accordingly as he called for the swift approval of the bills aimed at alleviating the financial burden faced by many Filipino workers amid the crisis.
“While we recognize that the [PhilHealth] only aims to implement the provisions of RA 11223, imposing a higher premium rate to our kababayans under our current conditions will definitely enforce a new round of financial burden to its members,” Velasco said in the explanatory note of House Bill 8316.
“Suspending the imposition of the new PhilHealth premium rates will provide a much-needed relief from the negative effects of the pandemic and will assure Filipinos that the government is sensitive to their sentiments,” he said.
In filing HB 8317, Velasco said the temporary suspension of the hike in SSS contributions will help the workforce achieve faster recovery from the impact of the pandemic.
“We are witnesses to the negative impact of this COVID-19 outbreak. Under this pretext, the sovereign government must be given the prerogative to bend the rules of the social security law in favor of the greater good,” Velasco said.
He likewise said that increasing the rate of contributions of SSS members will “strikingly undermine the recovery effort of everyone suffering from job losses, wage reduction, business closures, and health-related issues.”
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