House minority leader tells colleagues: Tackle PhilHealth scandal now
MANILA, Philippines—House Minority Leader Bienvenido Abante Jr. on Monday (July 27) called on the lower chamber to tackle alleged irregularities in the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) especially at a time when the country continued to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic.
In his Contra-SONA speech delivered before members of the House, Abante said that a year after he exposed alleged fraud in PhilHealth, the same allegations are being hurled at the state-owned insurer.
“I remember that the reason why the President has appointed the president of PhilHealth today, General [Ricardo] Morales, is for him to address corruption,” Abante said in his speech. “I am asking now the president of PhilHealth, where are now the list of corruption (cases) if ever they were investigated,” Abante said.
Abante made the remark amid fresh allegations of corruption in the agency.
As early as August 2019, the House minority bloc filed a resolution calling on the appropriate committee in the lower chamber to conduct an investigation of allegations of fraudulent medical claims, mismanagement and negligence, and graft and corruption against PhilHealth.
The resolution was filed following the alleged “ghost dialysis” scheme of WellMed Dialysis Center which had defrauded PhilHealth of hundreds of millions of pesos by allegedly using dead patients to file kidney treatment claims.
The revelation took the lid off irregularities in PhilHealth and led to the forced resignation of its top officials.
“I would like to urge and request the committee on rules and the majority floor leader to please agenda this very important resolution as the President even mentioned that,” Abante said.
“Now, its anti-fraud officer has resigned and has threatened to expose the irregularities in PhilHealth,” he added.
“Will we wait for the next pandemic before we look into these serious allegations? How many billions of pesos’ worth of members’ contributions must be lost to graft before the government takes action?” he added.
President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered an investigation into reports of irregularities in PhilHealth’s procurement of an information technology system that reportedly caused a rift between some of the state insurance firm’s officials and its president and Morales.
Thorrsson Montes Keith, PhilHealth anti-fraud legal officer, recently resigned.
Among the reasons he cited in his resignation letter were his belief of “widespread corruption in PhilHealth” and his opposition to the mandatory payment of PhilHealth contributions by overseas Filipino workers that he said was “unconstitutional” and against the Universal Health Act.
Morales had said Keith was only “vengeful” after supposedly being denied a position he was applying for in the agency.
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