The Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) has found a “systemic” flaw in state health insurer PhilHealth that has allowed a cycle of fraud to persist, a commissioner said Saturday, after the body concluded the first phase of its investigation into alleged corruption at the agency.
PACC Commissioner Greco Belgica told a briefing on state TV the body had identified officials involved in corruption at the agency, which had been tagged in false insurance claims and alleged overpricing of COVID-19 tests.
Reacting to the announcement, PhilHealth said in a statement: “The Corporation maintains that allegations coming out in some broadsheets against it and its Executives are either false, twisted half-truths or misinformation.”
“The Corporation shall exhaust all legal means against perpetrators of these malicious acts. With the current investigations being conducted by the Office of the President and Senate, it shall answer all issues brought against it in these fora,” it added.
“We assure the public that the Corporation strictly follows all relevant laws, directives and standards in reporting in all its operational processes and that all funds entrusted to it are properly disbursed and accounted for.”
The findings of the “partial” probe would be presented to President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday, Belgica told the Laging Handa briefing, heard nationwide.
“We’ve seen loopholes in the system that’s why this kind of system was perpetuated, and we’ve identified officials involved, positions that are vulnerable,” Belgica said.
He said the report also pointed to “misdoings” of an official who did not act on corrupt practices.
“There’s really a systemic flaw in PhilHealth. That’s why it’s really hard, it happens again and again, corruption won’t stop,” he said, adding the racket was “basically insurance fraud,” involving PhilHealth’s information technology (IT) and legal services that allegedly take advantage of “defects” in the system.
He said there were individuals who could easily access official documents.
“So, whether it’s a hospital or patient trying to dupe PhilHealth, they just continued to make withdrawals, then PhilHealth seemed to be blind and couldn’t see it... Not just seemingly, with the amount lost, they were already blind,” he added.
Belgica said the partial recommendations will be up for the President’s review.
President Rodrigo Duterte ordered an investigation into alleged corruption at PhilHealth following the resignation of the agency’s anti-fraud officer, lawyer Thorrsson Montes Keith, who cited “widespread corruption” at the agency, an unfair job promotions process, and his opposition to requiring migrant Filipinos to pay PhilHealth dues to make up for the “spillages” of the agency.