A liquidation is different from an audit, Sen. Panfilo Lacson stressed Wednesday, even as the fate of officials of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) who were charged over anomalies in the state insurer, is now up to the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB), the Department of Justice (DOJ) said.
Lacson was reacting to PhilHealth president Dante Gierran’s statement Tuesday that 92% of the P15 billion fund that was allegedly stolen by some of its officials had been “liquidated.”
“Say, if public funds were spent not for COVID-19 as required under the Interim Reimbursement Mechanism (IRM), but for dialysis centers and infirmaries which are clearly not authorized, it can still be declared as liquidated, but it doesn’t mean that funds were legally disbursed,” said Lacson.
“That is why, as we already know, some former and current PhilHealth officials have recently been charged by the DOJ-led Task Force,” he added.
“Sa totoo lang po, hindi po nawawala, andiyan lang. Sa ngayon po 92% na ang liquidated. So [kakaunti] na lang po [ang hindi pa],” said Geirran during at a Palace briefing.
Gierran also assured he will not allow that the funds intended for Filipinos will go missing.
“I came from the National Bureau of Investigation. I will not allow that,” he said.
Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said in a message to reporters: “The task force (against corruption) has already filed the complaints pertaining to the IRM (Interim Reimbursement Mechanism) with the Office of the Ombudsman.”
“So, we’ll leave it to the OMB to determine the effect of such liquidation on any administrative or criminal liability of the respondent Philhealth officials,” he said.
Last year, former PhilHealth anti-fraud legal officer Thorsson Keith claimed that the funds went missing due to the IRM and overpriced equipment purchases which are among the fraudulent schemes of members of the state firm’s executive committee.
Earlier this month, the Task Force PhilHealth officially endorsed to the OMB the report of the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) on its investigation on alleged fraudulent membership enrolment activities and benefit claims made at the PhilHealth Regional Office 1 (Northern Luzon).
Criminal and administrative complaints were recommended against 25 incumbent and former officials of the state health insurance firm, most of whom are from the regional office.
The charges include falsification of public documents under Article 171 in relation to Article 172 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC); malversation of public funds under Article 217 of the RPC, usurpation of authority under Article 177 of the RPC; violations of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act; violations of the National Health Insurance Act of 1995, as amended by Republic Act 9241 and Republic Act 10606; and administrative liabilities for grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, DOJ Assistant Secretary Neal Vincent Bainto said.
The charges stemmed from a fake account created at the PhilHealth Regional Office 1 under the name “Pamela Del Rosario” which had retroactive contributions applied and antedated.
It was found that 27 fraudulent claims were then made under the account.
The report also recommended charging PhilHealth officials and employees tasked to investigate such an alleged fraudulent scheme and their consequent failure to prosecute those involved in the incident.