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Senate seeks charges against PhilHealth execs

THE SENATE Committee of the Whole chaired by Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III has recommended the filing of administrative and criminal cases against resigned and current officers of Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth) over alleged irregularities.

The Committee has investigated five major issues against PhilHealth including the Interim Reimbursement Mechanism (IRM); the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) project as an anatomy of corruption; the Philhealth financial status specifically the alleged manipulation of financial statements; irregularities in the Legal Sector and the B.Braun Avitum Dialysis Centers.

Among the recommendations listed by the committee was the filing of violations of Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act against Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, who is the chairman of the board of PhilHealth; former PhilHealth President and Chief Executive Officer Ricardo Morales; Atty. Rodolfo del Rosario Jr., Senior Vice President for Legal Sector;  Ms. Jovita Aragona, Senior Vice President for Information Management Sector;  Mr. Calixto Gabuya Jr., Acting Senior Manager, IT and Management Department; Arnel de Jesus, Executive Vice President and COO;  Renato Limsiaco Jr. Senior Vice President for Fund management sector;  and Israel Francis Pargas, Senior Vice President for Health Finance Policy.

The committee also recommended filing of additional cases of malversation of public funds, illegal use of public funds and violation of the National Internal Revenue Code against Duque, Morales, de Jesus, Limsiaco and Pargas.

A violation of the Revised Penal Code specifically on negligence and tolerance was also recommended to be filed against del Rosario while falsification, fraud against public treasury, removal concealment or destruction of documents and violation of the government procurement act are recommended to be filed against Aragona and Gabuya.

Aside from criminal charges, the Committee asked the Department of Justice and the Ombudsman to file administrative cases against the PhilHealth officials.

The Committee also recommended some reforms to the PhilHealth, Department of Budget and Management and the Governance Commission for GOCC in order to avoid irregularities in the future.

In his sponsorship speech, Sotto stressed that the pressure on government finances becomes even greater for the implementation of the Universal Health Care Act.

“PhilHealth is in a deep hole as well. How deep we are not certain, yet. Unless we discover the real state of PhilHealth finances, we will never know. And the lack of knowledge is something all of us can ill-afford to have,” Sotto said.

“PhilHealth is hemorrhaging because of the inefficient running of the corporation, compounded by corrupt practices inside. Fortunately for us, the latter two causes are preventable and can be solved by us. We must thus exert our utmost authority and vigilance to rid PhilHealth of undesirables and, punish to the fullest extent of the law, criminals…Less than this, we cannot allow,” he further said.

“Our suffering people deserve nothing less,” he concluded.