At the Aug. 11, 2020 hearing of the Senate Committee of the Whole regarding corruption at PhilHealth, Sen. Lacson bared more irregularities involving issues such as the Interim Reimbursement Mechanism and procurement of IT equipment. He also called for a “special special audit” of PhilHealth – and called out a PhilHealth executive for alluding to investigators as “kampon ni Satanas.”
QUOTES and NOTES:
* INTERIM REIMBURSEMENT MECHANISM:
Karitela Bago ang Kabayo:
Sen. Lacson disclosed the board resolution that would be the basis of the circular for the IRM for COVID-19 cases came AFTER the circular, instead of before.
While PhilHealth Circular 2020-0007 was dated March 20, the board resolution (PBR 2515) that was supposed to be its basis was issued on March 31. “Ang humihila sa karitela is the resolution… Paano nauna ang IRM circular for COVID-19 dated March 20, samantala ang board resolution ratifiying the implementation of the issuance of that circular ay March 31? Paano nauna ang circular sa board resolution?” he asked.
PhilHealth Board of Directors corporate secretary Jonathan Mangaoang claimed the basis was a resolution dated Jan. 30, but Lacson noted that as of end-January, even DOH Sec. Francisco Duque III was not aware of the first known COVID-19 cases in the Philippines. “Maski si Sec Duque di pa alam. Yet PhilHealth insisted inuunahan pa nila, pine-preempt na nila.”
Sen. Lacson also noted that while past issuances of PhilHealth were disseminated the same day or the day after, the circular on IRM for COVID cases was disseminated April 22, or one month after. “In an effort to justify, in-antedate nila to March 21. But the date of dissemination was April 22.”
Meanwhile, Sen. Lacson noted that prior to Board Resolution 2515, PhilHealth already released P703M. Before April 22, it already released P9.299B. “What justified the release of the P703M and P9.299B?”
While PhilHealth PCEO Ricardo Morales explained that some expediency had to be adopted, Board Member Mercado said they were not talking about COVID in end-January. “I remember the Wuhan couple I think that was February. Naunahan nila ang unang COVID case, na-anticipate nyo na?” Sen. Lacson added.
No Due Diligence: P45M to Unregistered Dialysis Center
Sen. Lacson also questioned PhilHealth’s release of P45M to B Braun Avitum dialysis center, including P15M for its Tondo branch – without realizing B Braun is not registered with the SEC.
Lacson also noted B Braun Avitum refers clients to Gat Andres Bonifacio Memorial Medical Center for swab tests for COVID-19. “In-advance nyo bayad sa B Braun, naniningil sila sa dialysis patients. Saan napunta ang perang binibigay?”
“Di ba kayo nag-due diligence, bayad kayo ng bayad? Kami in 1-2 hrs nakakuha ganito kayo nag-release ng pera di kayo gumagawa ng due diligence?” he added.
On the other hand, Lacson noted PhilHealth’s office in Region 2 mistakenly deposited to a rural bank in Bataan in Region 3 a total of P9.705M. The amount was supposed to be deposited to B Braun Avitum Philippines. The RVP involved was relieved from his post but “rewarded with a promotion after undergoing such an investigation,” while two other officials involved were slapped charges of mere “simple neglect of duty.” “You were about to lose P9.7M, simple neglect of duty? Di pwedeng systems error.”
Worst, Lacson said Gat Andres Bonifacio Memorial Medical Center has yet to receive P20M in reimbursements from PhilHealth as of June 9, 2020.
“Alam nyo kayo sinisingil ng GAB P20M, yet BBraun na walang kinalaman sa COVID, (P45M)?” Sen. Lacson pointed out that while the Senate is not against PhilHealth giving funds to dialysis centers, it is under another program not covered by Circular 2020-0007. “P20M ang tagal nang sinisingil ng GAB which is a govt hospital. Ang binayaran nyo B Braun 45M, walang COVID patient, under COVID-19 IRM.”
PACC Help Sought on Mystery Account: 11 Transactions worth P9.7M
Sen. Lacson enlisted the help of the PACC to look into a mystery account that was the subject of 11 transactions worth P9.7M. “Probably you can make representation with the Ombudsman to dig deeper into details of the account.”
“Let’s confirm kung B Braun ang account name… With the permission of the Senate President, we’ll provide you all the documents we have.”
Kinaltasan ang IRM sa Taal:
Sen. Lacson also questioned the “deduction” of IRM for Taal when the pandemic hit.
“Nang nagkaroon ng pandemic deduct nila ang ni-release for Taal which I think is wrong. It is covered by another circular… Why would you deduct from Taal, e pandemic din ang taga-Batangas? Dapat start from zero as far as IRM for COVID-19 is concerned.”
Yan ang reklamo ng Lipa Medical Center. “Bakit daw babawasan sa kanila ang release e di fortuitous event ang COVID-19? Dapat start from zero uli di ba?”
Favoritism in Western, Eastern Visayas:
Meanwhile, Sen. Lacson questioned the possible favoritism by PhilHealth in Eastern and Western Visayas, citing records where PhilHealth Regional Office 6 sent the central office a request letter dated April 8 and a follow-up letter April 15, but did not receive a response until June 22.
In Eastern Visayas, Gov. Ben Evardone complained that 10 district community hospitals in the province have not been able to get P24M in IRM; yet four private hospitals got funds amounting to P21.5M “Kaya sabi niya mahirap na probinsya ang Eastern Samar bakit di sila makasingit… There’s a pattern here, bakit ganoon nangyayari, parang may favoritism sa pagpili sa Level 1 private hspitals na nakatanggap ng IRM funds, P21.5M?”
“Bakit inuna ng PhilHealth ma-release-an ang private hospitals na Level 1 to the disadvantage of 10 govt hospitals in Eastern Visayas?”
* IT EQUIPMENT OVERPRICE
Sen. Lacson caught SVP for information management Jovita Aragona when she testified they were procuring in 2019 network switches that Col. Etrobal Laborte, former HEA to PhilHealth PCEO Morales, pointed out are now considered outdated and are no longer being sold. “Obsolete ang 2960XR, 2016 yan, P46K na lang yan ngayon. Kung 2016 plus 5 years, mura na sa market yan. Di natin pwede bilhin,” Laborte said.
“Apparently may collusion sa bidding… Laging yan nananalo tapos diprensya ng price sa bidding ang liliit,” Sen. Lacson noted.
He also said that while the purchase was aborted, some have to be made accountable. “Who will be made liable for attempted overprice of procurement? Somebody must be held liable. Di lang overpriced, grossly overpriced.”
* ‘SPECIAL SPECIAL AUDIT’:
Sen. Lacson stressed the need for a “special special audit” due to PhilHealth’s recurring restated financial statements. “You are helpless because PhilHealth is not giving you access to its financial records. What will you do given the situation?”
He also noted PhilHealth uses prior year adjustments “year in and year out,” adding this is “done deliberately to make life difficult for (COA).” He called for a special audit of PhilHealth. “Make it a special special audit.”
Sen. Lacson noted that when corruption becomes habitual, “the time will come some people will reach their limit. May hangganan ang kayang sikmurahin ng corruption.” But he added they are happy there are “decent” people in PhilHealth giving them information about the wrongdoing.
“We’re so happy there are decent people in Philhealth giving us all this info. Kung hindi, kawawa na si Pilipino.”
However, Sen. Lacson also questioned the social media post of Rodolfo “Jojo” del Rosario, one of the personalities linked to irregularities, that read: “Hinding hindi po tayo papayag na mananaig ang mga kampon ni Satanas.”
“Kami mga kampon ni Satanas, mga mapanuri? Yan ang tawag sa amin dito.”
Sen. Lacson also questioned del Rosario about a pending case he has before the Civil Service Commission that was filed in 2018.