This was due to Senator Panfilo Lacson, who along with his colleagues grilled PhilHealth officials over alleged deviations in the bureau during a Senate committee throughout the hearing on Tuesday.
During the nearly ten-hour investigation, senators questioned PhilHealth officials on the following issues:
- a proposed P2.1 billion information technology project, which even state auditors had previously marked as too expensive
- a supposedly dubious release of funds under the company’s Interim Audit Mechanism (IRM)
- the alleged manipulation of the company’s financial status
Asked if the Senate had a strong case against the PhilHealth officials involved in the deviations, Lacson said, speaking in part in Filipino: “The answer is yes. There is a strong case that can be brought against those who should be held criminally and administratively responsible. It is clear ̵
“Based on the documents I have in my possession, I myself, as an investigator, can say in my previous life that the documents would stand,” he added.
Cases of transplants and corruption can be reported to those found to be involved in the alleged corruption within the bureau, according to the senator.
When asked to identify the officials to be prosecuted, Lacson refrained from giving a categorical answer because the Senate inquiry was still open.
The House will resume its probe into the PhilHealth mess next Tuesday, August 11th.
“I have my own conclusion, but it is not for me to decide because this is the whole committee. We will incorporate [the findings] if there will be a recommendation for prosecution against those who may be liable. That’s where it’s going to come out, the senator said.
“But I have my own opinion because I was there the whole time the hearing was taking place,” he added.
In a separate online interview, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said PhilHealth President Ricardo Morales could either have been “blindsided” by his subordinates, who had been in office for years before him, or that he was protecting some of his officials.
In July 2019, President Rodrigo Duterte Morales, a retired Army Brigadier General, appointed PhilHealth President and CEO to presumably release the Office of Corruption.
He is either blindsided, blindsided or he protects them. There is nothing in between, “said Sotto.
“At least I didn’t go down without explaining myself first. Now I hope the other side is not true, which is that he knew everything was happening, he said, speaking partly in Filipino.
“It’s because you read his answer now,” he continued. “Others think he was blinded. Others believe, based on his answers, that he covers for his colleagues. You can derive it from there. “
Lacson also had a similar observation that Morales was either “misled” by his people or “coordinated.”
During the hearing, Morales admitted that he was informed by his then Executive Assistant about a possible discrepancy in the proposed procurement of CISCO Catalyst Switches.
However, he signed a document approving it, citing a presumption of regularity.
“The documents I signed go to several processes. They go to several [officials] who are supposed to do their due diligence before it reaches me for approval, ”said the PhilHealth manager at the previous hearing.
“So I assumed, sir, in this case, that the figures presented to me were the correct and correct figures for the goods we bought,” he added. “I assumed there were no problems with the final price, that it was the right amount.”
Senators had also persuaded Morales to promote four officials who are currently facing transplant complaints about their alleged involvement in the WellMed “ghost” dialysis cheat revealed in 2019.
Morales insisted that he was not aware that complaints had been lodged against the officials he had promoted.
He also denied that he was a “coddler” of a “syndicate” within the agency that allegedly fetched P15 billion in funds through various systems.
Still, Sotto said, “Right now I would still give him the benefit of the doubt. There is also the possibility that they cheated on him. And if what they told him was not correct, not correct, then they lied. “
According to Sotto, the Senate is still preparing its committee report and is likely to finalize it after next week’s hearing.
“We are still working on some points. I would rather not let the cat out of the bag. We are already working on some points that are very obvious during the negotiations, “he said.
Asked whether the committee would recommend filing charges against those involved in issues of corruption in the state-owned insurance company, Sotto said: “Sure. It’s really safe. “
Sotto added that Presidential Anti-Corruption Council (PACC) commissioner Greco Belgica would be invited to attend the next hearing to share the results of his own investigation into the alleged PhilHealth irregularities.