“These rampant and pervasive allegations of corruption, incompetence and inefficiency have systematically impaired the management of PhilHealth to the detriment of this public institution and its members, without any remedial measures to improve competency and exact accountability, thereby endangering PhilHealth’s existence, necessitating the Senate’s intervention to prevent the corporation’s financial collapse.”
In an interview on DZBB and GMA News TV, Sen. Lacson answered questions on: * Senate efforts to address COVID-19 situation [01:48]
* 3 issues hounding PhilHealth that the Senate probe will focus on [04:33]
In an interview on DWIZ, Sen. Lacson answered questions on:
* Expectations at President Duterte’s SONA [00:11]
* Latest corruption and mismanagement at PhilHealth [07:20]
* Claims that IATF is a failure in dealing with COVID-19 [37:04]
Corruption in PhilHealth seems to have become the rule rather than the exception. And the threat posed by COVID-19 seems to have emboldened rather than deterred it.
Just to cite an example: The newly instituted Interim Reimbursement Mechanism (IRM), purportedly to support the national government’s response to the COVID-19 threat, gives PhilHealth the authority to provide special privilege in the form of substantial aid to “eligible” Health Care Institutions (HCIs).
This new malevolent scheme led to the release of hundreds of millions of pesos in record time – in one or two weeks – to a few unaccredited hospitals that register only one COVID-19 patient.
That, and other mind-blowing controversies will be the focus of the Senate inquiry in the coming days when Congress starts its Second Regular Session.
The resolution that we are filing on Monday and the ensuing Committee of the Whole inquiry will show you how even the COVID-19 crisis has created more opportunities for systemic corruption in PhilHealth to flourish.
As long as the responsible officials are not made accountable for their misdeeds, PhilHealth will continue to bleed dry, thus running the risk of becoming bankrupt sooner than we think.
Unabated corruption and mismanagement of Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) funds has been a topic of discussion among Senate President Sotto and me, along with some senators from the majority bloc, for quite some time now.
But the reported shouting match in a recent virtual conference between the PhilHealth president and some board members involving almost P1 billion worth of questionable transactions, including a total overprice of P98 million – if true, says it all.
I am now drafting a resolution calling for a Senate Committee of the Whole inquiry. As expressed by SP Sotto to me last night, this inquiry will be one of the Senate’s top agenda after our session resumes on Monday.
That such corruption occurred amid the COVID-19 crisis makes it more disgusting and abominable. Nakakasuya na sobra. Needless to say, there is urgency that the Senate has to act on the matter immediately, as part of its oversight mandate, having passed the Universal Health Law.
Placing the entire country under a state of calamity is timely and rational, and thus deserves the support of the Filipino people. For one, it will allow the local government units as well as the national government agencies to utilize their calamity funds and Quick Response Fund, in accordance with Republic Act 10121 and other pertinent laws.
Having said that, I cannot imagine that concerned local government officials in charge of dispensing those funds can still have gall and malevolent intention of stealing the monies under their control, considering the seriousness of this unprecedented crisis that we are all facing.
Further, the government, for all its disaster preparedness and response efforts, cannot overcome the threat by itself. We must all do our part, whether as workers rendering frontline services, scientists developing ways to deal with the problem, or responsible Filipinos giving support to them while showing understanding and cooperation with measures from the national government and local government units.
There is no doubt we will survive this, as we have done in so many crises before.
I have always believed that the real test of character of public officials like P/Lt. Col. Jovie Espenido is power or money. Give them the opportunity to lay their hands on either one or both, and they will reveal who they really are.
I remember then PO1 Espenido during our PAOCTF days as someone who consistently performed his duty with integrity and dedication. At least that was how I knew him in the many instances that he faced those challenges. But that time, he was just a non-commissioned officer at the bottom of the salary grade of police personnel. Rising from the ranks, he held several positions of higher authority until his relief recently.
This morning, I sent him a text message with a simple question: “What happened?” He has not replied, unlike before when he would even text me with early morning Bible quotes.
It is a pity because no less than President Duterte took notice of his performance by publicly acknowledging his contribution to the government’s war on illegal drugs, easily making him the poster boy of the campaign.
Espenido’s case, if true, could be one big reason why the war against illegal drugs is failing.
Being his former superior, I hope he can acquit himself and convincingly disprove this very serious allegation against him. Otherwise, he is just one of the many others I personally knew to have succumbed to the pressure.
When the regular jueteng collections of at least PhP200 million a day or PhP73 billion a year in Metro Manila, Cordillera Administrative Region and Regions 1 to 5 alone translate to a mere PhP4 billion income for the PCSO from Small Town Lottery (STL) operations, a big chunk of which is not even in cash remittances but recorded as collectibles, we do not need an Albert Einstein to figure out how much goes to the individual pockets of STL franchise holders, corrupt politicians, policemen and PCSO officials.
No matter how many congressional hearings are conducted, the palms of these people continue to be greased by gambling money.
The fact is, illegal jueteng merely masquerades as legitimate STL operations, 7 days a week, without fail, whose “kubrador” are armed with PCSO IDs to avoid arrest by the police who may be co-opted anyways.
Should Lotto Have Been Excluded from the President’s ‘Suspension’ Order?
It’s like this: if the intention is to stop gambling altogether, then all forms of gambling, including the PAGCOR-regulated games like casinos and online should have been included.
Since it doesn’t appear that way, then lotto outlets should have been spared since there are no reports of revenue cheating as far as lotto operations are concerned because they are computerized and automated and therefore closely monitored – unlike STL where PCSO, for millions of reasons, has consistently resisted to make it more transparent and foolproof.