Sotto wants cleansing in PhilHealth first before granting add’l subsidy
MANILA, Philippines — For Senate President Vicente Sotto III, the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) must first be cleaned up before it gets an additional subsidy from the government.
This, even if with the supposed looming collapse of the state health insurer due to lack of funds especially if the COVID-19 pandemic persists.
“Linisin muna, kailangan linisin…’Pag nangyari ‘yun, magaganahan ang Kongreso na tulungan sila,” Sotto told reporters in an online interview on Wednesday.
“I think we have to clean it up first. Clean it up,” he added.
Sotto then pointed out there are a lot of sources of funds for PhilHealth.
“Maraming paraan. Una may mga collection sila, may collection sa sin taxes papunta sa kanila,” the legislator said.
“Pagkatapos napakaraming plano ang President na pwedeng-pwedeng makatulong sa kanila. Una, ‘yung pagbebenta ng mga properties ng gobyerno na natutulog lang,” he added.
PhilHealth Acting Senior Vice President Nerissa Santiago said during a Senate investigation that the state health insurer could “collapse” by 2020 if the COVID-19 pandemic persists. Thus, an additional subsidy from the government is needed for it to “survive” in the coming years.
Santiago had also told senators that the actuarial life of the state pension fund has been reduced from 10 years to only one year because of the health crisis.
But Sotto said it is the corruption within the agency that is bleeding the agency of its funds.
“Hindi ako natatakot dun sa actuarial life eh. Matatakot ako sa actuarial life kung hanggang ngayon ay ganyan ay puro korapsyon ang nangyayari,” the Senate President went on.
‘Crime of the year’
During Tuesday’s hearing, resigned PhilHealth anti-fraud legal officer Thorrsson Montes Keith alleged that a mafia-like syndicate, composed of the agency’s executive committee members, has pocketed P15 billion in funds through various schemes.
Allegations of widespread corruption in PhilHealth gained traction following a controversial meeting of PhilHealth officials and members of President Rodrigo Duterte’s Cabinet.
The meeting was said to have escalated into a forum for heated exchanges over PhilHealth’s allegedly overpriced IT system, which led to several PhilHealth officials turning in resignation letters, one of whom is Keith.
The Senate probe focused on three “major issues” within PhilHealth, including the implementation of the interim reimbursement mechanism, the information and communication technology equipment worth P734 million flagged by state auditors, and the alleged manipulation of its financial status.
The upper chamber is set to resume its investigation into the PhilHealth mess next Tuesday, August 11.
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