Say, if public funds were spent not for COVID-19 as required under the Interim Reimbursement Mechanism but for dialysis centers and infirmaries and which are clearly not authorized, it can still be declared as liquidated – but it does not mean funds were legally disbursed.
That is why, as we already know, some former and current PhilHealth officials presently face charges from the DOJ-led task force.
In an interview on DZBB/GNTV, Sen. Lacson answered questions on:
* charges that may be filed vs accountable PhilHealth execs
* who is the PhilHealth mafia
* remedial legislation
* cooperation of task force led by DOJ
After her 2004 “victory,” Mrs. Arroyo rewarded PhilHealth president Duque with an appointment as DOH Secretary.
Fast forward to 2020, where under new PCEO Ricardo Morales – and Duque as ex-officio chairman – PhilHealth tried to collect premiums from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), notwithstanding their classification as a special sector. This amid a flawed if not perverted implementation of its Interim Reimbursement Mechanism (IRM) for health care institutions handling COVID-19 cases, gross overpricing in its procurement of IT equipment, and the doctoring of its financial statements.
As for Sec. Duque, he has stayed too long in the DOH and PhilHealth in different capacities. He admitted in a public hearing that he has given his best but it wasn’t good enough.
More than public interest, public health is imperiled with Sec. Duque at the helm of DOH. Notwithstanding the trust and confidence reposed on him by the appointing authority, Filipinos deserve a good, competent, honest and capable DOH Secretary.
More than rectifying the wrong implementation of the IRM Circular 2020-0007, the accountable officers of PhilHealth who were responsible for the advance payments worth billions of pesos from March to July made to unauthorized HCIs like dialysis centers, maternity care providers, etc., should be made criminally and administratively liable for malversation of public funds (or property) under Art. 217, Chapter 4 of the Revised Penal Code as amended by Sec. 40 or RA 10951, which carries the penalty of reclusion perpetua if the amount involved is in excess of P8.8 million.
The evidence supported by official documents and testimonies provided by resource persons who testified under oath so far gathered by the Senate Committee of the Whole during the threeweeklyhearings are enough to indict people responsible directly or otherwise.
Without tough punitive action against those involved in such shenanigans, we may never see the end of the vicious cycle of corruption that has plagued PhilHealth.
The Securities and Exchange Commission issued a certification which I read during last week’s hearing that B. Braun Avitum Dialysis Center Inc is not registered as a corporation. Unless they show their documents to the contrary and validated by SEC, I will have to stand by the government agency’s issued document.
Having said that, I also read into the records of the Committee of the Whole the SEC registration of B. Braun Medical Supplies Inc.
Nevertheless, nothing can justify the release of funds in the aggregate amount of at least P45 million to B. Braun Avitum Dialysis Center Inc. that has not catered to a single COVID-19 patient and with such record speed, compared to more deserving HCIs, especially government hospitals catering to COVID patients which up to now have not received any payment in relation to PhilHealth Circular 2020-0007, which is its specific intent and purpose.
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.”
Recent developments have given us a sneak peek into the extent of corruption at the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth), even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
I thus pose this challenge to the corrupt elements in PhilHealth: Declare a moratorium on corruption, at least during the pandemic. Who knows, they might actually learn that it feels good not to be corrupt, and thus develop an aversion to corruption.
Having said that, I also encourage those in PhilHealth who fight corruption in their own little way – the officials and rank-and-file who continue to provide information and documents – not to tire of blowing the whistle on corruption, even if we may not immediately see the results of their acts.
A corruption-free – and more importantly, corruption-averse – PhilHealth will not only ensure much-needed health benefits for all Filipinos in the long run. In the immediate term, it will ease the concerns of lawmakers, myself included, that the budget we pass for PhilHealth to do its job will not be lost to greed.
In an interview with Senate media, Sen. Lacson answers questions on: * Senate Committee of the Whole hearing on corruption at PhilHealth on Aug. 4
* Calls for DOH Secretary Duque’s resignation
* Medical frontliners’ plight
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.