On the eve of a Senate investigation into allegations of corruption in the Philippine Health Insurance Corp., Senator Panfilo Lacson said it is revolting to see the PhilHealth mafia still active and in control of the agency’s already depleted resources.
“At the outset, I can say that this new Senate investigation will reveal the same cast of characters, or at least a number of them, that we already exposed in a Senate inquiry in August last year,” Lacson said.
“I would say, the syndicate is back with a vengeance—or at least its core group has never left… They must have mastered the art of influence peddling as they seem to continue to gain access to the corridors of power,” Lacson added.
The Senate is set to start its investigation on Tuesday, Aug. 4, into the alleged anomalies at the state health insurer.
Lacson said his resolutjon calling for an inquiry will focus on three major issues: the anomalous implementation of the interim reimbursement mechanism (IRM), the questionable insertions for the purchase of an ICT equipment worth P734 million, and the supposed manipulation of the agency’s financial statements.
Based on documents they obtained, Lacson said PhilHealth had anomalously released a total of P247 million to three hospitals in the Bicol Region and another P196 million to two hospitals in Eastern Visayas, all tertiary level institutions, only weeks after they applied through IRM, and even though they had only one COVID-19 patient.
Lacson also wants to investigate the questionable insertions in the PhilHealth budget for the purchase of ICT equipment, which he said has already been flagged by the Commission on Audit.
Lacson said they have witnesses who are willing to testify and detail the pervasive and deep-rooted corruption in the PhilHealth.
Lacson had also called for the resignation of PhilHealth [resident and CEO Ricardo Morales if he cannot credibly refute the allegations of “widespread corruption” under his leadership.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III, however, suggested that Morales should go on leave to show “delicadeza as his agency will be investigated.
In a statement issued on Friday, PhilHeatlh said it maintains that allegations coming out in some newspapers against the agency and its executives are either false, twisted half-truths or misinformation.
“The corporation shall exhaust all legal means against perpetrators of these malicious acts,” the agency said.
With the current investigations being conducted by the Office of the President and the Senate, PhilHealth said it would answer all issues brought against it.