PhilHealth denies anomalies in ICT project

The Philippine Health Insurance (Philhealth) on Friday said the internal audit report did not specifically say that its P2.1 billion information and communication technology (ICT) project was overpriced, but only said there were “discrepancies.”

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PhilHealth’s senior vice president for information management sector, Jovita Aragona, said the discrepancy found was the difference between actual prices and the budget estimates provided.

Before bidding, she said, the proposed budget had to be updated again based on the current market canvasses and computed in average, median, and lowest with allowances for inflation.

“The lowest of the computed amount is the approved budget for the contract. The estimates never actually became the budget because they were updated after the canvass to reflect the approved budget, which is a much lower rate,” she said.

In. a statement Philhealth said the alleged P115 million pertains to regular desktops with three-year warranty composed of 1,341 units at P86,000 per unit, as validated by internal audit.

On the other hand, the P4.1 million for laptops was budgeted in 2019 but these were not purchased due to a lack of time.

“That is why it was included in the proposed 2020 corporate operating budget. The proposal remains at six units with high-end specifications at P56,000 per unit, 21 units... with regular specifications at P50,562 per unit, and 53 units laptops with small form factor specifications at P51,200 per unit,” Aragona said.

PhilHealth board member Alejandro Cabading, an accountant, testified before the Senate committee of the whole investigating allegations of the corruption in the agency that the proposed ICT project include two sets of purchases for new laptops worth a total of P4.1 million and P115 million.

Philhealth said Cabading’s allegation that the ICT budget proposal of P2.1 billion in December 2019 was rejected by the board because it lacked “specific details” is not true.

On Dec. 15, 2019, the board agreed to defer the approval of CY 2020 IT budget pending provision of further details and presentation to the audit committee.

As directed, the ICT sector’s budget with specific details was presented during the risk management committee and audit committee meetings.

“Mr. Cabading is confused with his statement that the ICT sector reduced their proposal to P1.9 billion due to typographical errors. The reduction from 2.1B to 1.5B was based on the deferment of some projects pending completion of the IT Roadmap with external consultants,” Aragona said.

She also debunked reports that PhilHealth recommended a supplemental ICT budget of P302 million. She emphasized that the request was to extend to December 2020 the 2019 projects that were not procured and implemented.

The board decided to have the 2019 approved projects as the 2020 Supplemental Budget.

On COA’s report dated January 2020 which provides that 24 units of network switches units “were not utilized (yet) and found inside (their boxes) at the time of inspection... PhilHeatlh said they were previously used units that were packed and re-sealed for transfer to new locations.

The said 24 switches are assigned to PhilHealth offices in Regions 4A, 4B and 5. These units have been installed and are being used, she said.

On the allegation that PhilHealth PCEO Ricardo Morales supported the revised ICT budget of P750 million, the proposed budget was actually the result of Cabading’s instruction to review the IT budget with an IT external expert.

When the IT department presented its budget again, the board deferred the proposal pending results of the inventory and appraisal of ICT purchases.

PhilHealth also denied there were double entries, saying the projects seen in the 2018-2020 budget proposals that are alleged as double entries may carry the same project titles but refer to entirely different projects and scope of work.

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Topics: Philippine Health Insurance , Ricardo Morales , information and communication technology , Jovita Aragona , 2020 Supplemental Budget
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