Ombudsman suspends top PhilHealth execs amid corruption probe

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 19, 2020   •   977

Ombudsman Samuel Martires has ordered the six-month suspension of 13 top officials of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) amid investigation on alleged corruption in the agency.

Among the suspended PhilHealth executives were Senior Vice President (SVP) for Management and Service Sector Dennis Mas, SVP for Health Finance and Policy Sector Israel Pargas, Vice President for Corporate Affairs Group Shirley Domingo, and Legal Sector Chief Rodolfo Del Rosario.

PhilHealth President and CEO Ricardo Morales, however, was not included in the list of suspended officials.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said this will ensure that the country’s Universal Healthcare is secured.

Nagagalak naman po kami kasi, unang-una, kaya naman tayo nagsampa ng mga kaso diyan para pangalagaan po iyong Universal Healthcare na ating isinulong noong 17th Congress (We are happy. Firstly, because we filed charges for the sake of the Universal Healthcare being pushed in the 17th Congress),” he said. AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)



Deployment of resident ombudsmen to graft-prone agencies to start this month — DOJ

Robie de Guzman   •   September 9, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The deployment of prosecutors and state auditors who will serve as resident ombudsmen to government agencies prone to corruption is expected to begin this month, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said Thursday.

This is after the DOJ, together with the Commission on Audit (COA) and the Office of the Ombudsman, signed a memorandum of agreement that would deputize DOJ prosecutors and COA auditors as resident ombudsmen.

Their tasks include the following:

  • Bring to host government agencies the Ombudsman’s frontline services by acting on complaints and reports against officials and employees of the said agencies
  • Serve as watchdogs and implementors or corruption prevention program
  • Monitor compliance with existing anti-graft laws and regulations

“The MOA synergizes the investigatory powers of the Office of the Ombudsman, DOJ, and COA in the implementation of anti-corruption measures, this aiding the OMB and the COA in carrying out their respective mandates while also serving as a mechanism for the DOJ to attain the objectives of the Task Force Against Corruption,” the DOJ said in a statement.

“The OMB, COA, and DOH shall jointly enter into agreements with partner agencies regarding the terms of deployment of the resident Ombudsmen, which is expected to start rolling this month,” it added.

This development comes after COA included in its report alleged “deficiencies” in the Department of Health’s use of COVID-19 funds.

The issue has prompted Congressional hearings on the utilization of DOH’s funds for COVID-19 response.

PhilHealth indefinitely halts circular suspending payment of claims

Marje Pelayo   •   August 30, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) has put on hold indefinitely the implementation of a circular suspending payment of hospital claims.

On Sunday (August 29), the state health insurer announced that PhilHealth Circular No. 2021-0013 on the Temporary Suspension of Payment of Claims is suspended to address issues arising from the said issuance.

PhilHealth, however, commits its support to its anti-fraud program that is in full force to protect the National Health Insurance Fund.

The public is advised to send a text message to 09216300009 and receive a callback from PhilHealth’s Action Center for more information on developments about the matter.

Meanwhile, suggestions, comments, and feedback may also be sent to actioncenter@philhealth.gov.ph.

PhilHealth to pay P17-B worth of hospital claims next week

Marje Pelayo   •   August 27, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) vows to pay P17-billion worth of claims to hospitals next week.

PhilHealth President and CEO Atty. Dante Gierran confirmed this during a hearing at the House of Representatives (HOR) on Thursday (August 26).

“Babayaran po iyan dahil alam po namin ang paghihirap ng mga ospital. Sa makatuwid po ay meron na tayo ngayon expanded [Debit-Credit Payment Mechanism], something like P17 billion,” he said.

The official said they are just waiting for the documents to be completed so the state insurer can pay about 60% of its total arrears to hospitals amounting to P21.1-billion.

During the hearing, Batangas 5th District Representative Marvi Mariño expressed concern about four private hospitals in his province who fear closing down if PhilHealth fails to pay them.

“I spoke with the private hospital in my area just today, Mr. Chairman, and they told me that they might close their hospitals in about 6 months if they are not paid with their claims,” Mariño said.

Gierran, on the other hand, explained that the province is not a recipient of the DCPM.

“Ang Batangas po ay hindi na po nagavail ng ating DPCM, Why? Because they are happy with our ordinary claims processing. I have letters po sa mga ospital writing me that they will no longer avail of the DCPM kasi happy na po sila sa regular filing,” the PhilHealth head explained.

But private hospitals argued that they are not using the DCPM since there is no clear explanation as to its purpose and to whom it is intended.

“Iyong portion po na iyan ng DCPM, may portion po yan ng professional fee, may portion po iyan for hospitals. So paano nyo po i-a-apportion ang professional fee doon at saka ang hospital fees kung hindi nyo alam kung anong kaso ang kino-cover nitong DCPM na ito?” questioned Dr. Jose Rene De Grano, president of the Private Hospitals Ass. of the Philippines, Inc. (PHAPI).

Despite this, Gierran assures that the memorandum issued by PhilHealth concerning stoppage of claims payment covers only those with irregularities or so-called ‘bad claims.’

The official said the state insurer is willing to concede to lawmakers’ request to suspend the implementation of the circular regarding the suspension of claims payment. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

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