Go wants corrupt bureaucrats fired
Malacañang is convinced that the investigation launched by the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) into alleged widespread corruption at Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) will lead to litigation.
Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. spoke after the PACC said there were loopholes and system failures in PhilHealth that allowed insurance fraud to be fixed in the agency responsible for managing the country’s universal healthcare system.
“There are now three investigations and the PACC fortunately seemed to have completed theirs, and we hope this will actually lead to the filing of cases,” Roque said in an interview with CNN Philippines.
Over the weekend, PACC commissioner Greco Belgica said the commission would present President Rodrigo Duterte next week with an interim report on its investigation.
“We have identified officials who may be involved and positions that are vulnerable to this type of corruption,” Belgica said.
In addition to the PACC, the House of Representatives and the Senate have launched their own investigations.
The President’s Executive Staff and the Office of the Special Assistant to the President also conduct a joint investigation into PhilHealth irregularities.
During the Senate hearing, PhilHealth President Ricardo Morales said that P10.2 billion from PhilHealth’s budget “potentially lost” to fraudulent transactions and systems in 2019.
He said the loss could be as high as P18 billion next year if it did not act.
The president ordered an investigation after some PhilHealth officials circulated the “too expensive” procurement of an IT system.
Morales defended the IT project, saying it would help PhilHealth stop fraud.
He also denied coding of a thriving syndicate in the agency that allegedly fetched P15 billion PhilHealth funds last year.
PhilHealth has been under fire in recent weeks after its former legal officer against fraud Thorrsson Montes Keith resigned over corruption in the agency.
Keith claimed that a “mafia” operates various fraudulent systems, including the IT business.
Roque said Keith’s statement may be true, as he found it worrying that the head of the state insurance company could not stop illegal acts under his watch.
During a Senate hearing, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, chairman of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, demanded the removal of corrupt PhilHealth officials.
How can you treat patients if you do not treat your own agency? The corrupt really needs to be removed (How can you cure patients when you can not cure? [problems] in your own agency? There really is a need to fire the corrupt), Go said.
He asked the Ombudsman to look into the matter further. “We need to know who is behind this mess, if there is a mafia, who are these people,” Go said.
He promised that individuals who would be proven guilty of corruption would be held accountable.
Go said he would continue to fight for additional funds needed to implement the Public Health Act if PhilHealth could clear its rankings and rid the agency of corruption.
Another senator, Ana Theresia “Risa” Hontiveros, called on the Department of Health (DoH) and PhilHealth to convene an overpricing body to stop the corruption of the state insurer.
Hontiveros presented the proposal on Wednesday to ensure greater transparency and reduce fraud in PhilHealth’s operations.
WITH JAVIER JOE ISMAEL, BERNADETTE E. TAMAYO, REINA C. TOLENTINO AND RED MENDOZA