Active, ex-PhilHealth officials charged

Former presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, along with an ex-Philippine Health Insurance Corp. employee, on Wednesday filed a graft complaint against former and active PhilHealth officials before the Office of the Ombudsman for issuing fake premium receipts to overseas Filipino workers.

The complainant—Roque and Ken Sarmiento—accused ex-National Capital Region vice president Dennis Mas, ex-chief operating officer Ruben Basa, ex-vice president for Member Management Group Narisa Sugay and vice president Gilda Diaz of the Office of the Actuary of dereliction of duty and grave abuse of discretion.

Graft complaint, Active, ex-PhilHealth officials charged
GRAFT COMPLAINT. Lawyer Harry Roque, the author of the Universal Health Care Law, and whistleblower Ken Sarmiento, formerly of PhilHealth, filed a complaint for graft against senior executives of PhilHealth who they said failed to act on fake PhilHealth receipts issued for the premium payments of overseas Filipino workers before the Office of the Ombudsman.
They alleged that the respondents failed to act on the issuance of fraudulent PhilHealth receipts to OFWs that led to a P16-million loss in 2014 to 2018.

Claiming they had collated over 1,000 fake PhilHealth premium receipts issued by liaison officers of manning agencies, Roque said the accused were able to convince the involved OFWs that they had already settled their annual P2,400 premium each.

Sarmiento, who was then detailed at the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, said the false PhilHealth premium receipts were being submitted by OFWs to PhilHealth’s operations office in the POEA.

“There was report (about the fraud), and that they (accused) had been informed about it. Yet, they had not done anything about it,” Roque said.

“We cannot let this corruption go on just like that. It has been happening right in front of them,” he added.

In August 2019, Roque filed a complaint of graft, usurpation of judicial functions and grave misconduct also before the Ombudsman against ex-PhilHealth president Roy Ferrer, Ruperto Aleroza, Celestina dela Serna, Eddie Dorotan, Joan Lareza, Hildegardes Dineros, Roberto Salvador Jr., Anthony Leachon, Charade Grande, Jonathan Mangaoang, Lora Mangasar and representatives of the Perpetual Succour Hospital of Cebu Inc. for the reversal of a 2015 Court of Appeals decision for a three-month suspension of the hospital’s operation and a P10,000 fine.

The hospital was found guilty of two counts of extending a patient’s period of confinement in violation of the PhilHealth law. (RIO)

But in a statement, Bgen. Ricardo Morales, AFP (ret)., President and CEO of Philhelath, denied that Philhealth officialsm were involved in the issuance of fake receipts.

“The unscrupulous act of issuing fake receipts were committed by the liaison officers of recruitment agencies and not by anyone at PhilHealth. Said fake receipts were issued by these liaison officers themselves for premiums that they collected from unsuspecting OFWs but did not remit to PhilHealth,” 

Morales added that “with due diligence, it was PhilHealth which reported the incident to the National Bureau of Investigation in 2015 for a more thorough investigation.”

“Since then it has been in constant coordination with the NBI (with whom it has a Memorandum of Agreement to file appropriate criminal cases should there be any) for guidance on the necessary legal actions to take against the perpetrators.”

The state agency also said that contrary to reports that some P16 million were lost due to the said scam, PhilHealth has verified a total of P1.2 million worth of contributions that are with fake receipts. It added that to date, PhilHealth has recovered a total of P430,000 from these agencies, while the balance is in various stages of recovery. 

Morales said that to prevent these from happening again, the agency “has strengthened its IT system as well as its coordination with the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration for a mechanism that will assure OFWs that their premium contributions are properly remitted to and accounted for, pursuant to the approval of POEA’s Governing Board on the matter in January 2019.”

Topics: Harry Roque , PhilHealth , Philippine Health Insurance Corp. , overseas Filipino workers , OFWs , Philippine Overseas Employment Administration , POEA
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