MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) on Thursday denied “in the strongest terms” the allegation of its former anti-fraud legal officer that senior officials of the agency had pocketed some P15 billion in 2019.
“The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation categorically denies in strongest terms that its senior officials have ‘pocketed’ some P15 billion as alleged by Thorrsson Montes Keith during the Senate hearing on August 4, 2020,” PhilHealth president and chief executive officer Ricardo Morales said in a statement.
According to Morales, Keith was hired as a job order contractor to engage in “staff work” under his office and is “in no position to discuss office matters being in the Corporation for only 9 months.”
“His malicious claims not substantiated by evidence were obviously made to malign officers that rejected his ambitions for higher offices which he is not qualified for,” Morales added.
Morales said the fund mentioned by Keith was the Interim Reimbursement Mechanism (IRM) that was released to a total of 711 health care facilities to assure efficient response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
He also said that “there has never been favoritism” in the release of these funds, which he stressed had followed existing guidelines.
PhilHealth said contrary to reports that hospitals no longer need to account for these funds, the IRM is governed by government accounting and auditing rules, hence, it is subject to liquidation by its recipients. It added that PhilHealth regional offices have been given the flexibility in the timing of liquidations recognizing the situations in each hospital.
“It is worthy to note that in recognition of the crucial help that the IRM plays in the fight against COVID-19, the Philippine Hospital Association, in a statement, expressed their support to its implementation in all levels of hospitals (including infirmaries) to help them to ‘financially cope with the demands of increasing its capacity to respond to COVID-19,’” added PhilHealth.
The Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) earlier tagged 36 PhilHealth officials for alleged irregularities in the state-run firm, composed of 10 board members of PhilHealth, 11 officials from the executive committee and other central office units, and 15 others from one of its regional offices.
PACC Commissioner Greco Belgica said complaints may be filed against the accused officials before the Office of the Ombudsman by next week.