‘There is always corruption in PhilHealth’ – Morales
MANILA, Philippines — As the Philippine Health Insurance Corp (PhilHealth) is being investigated over fresh allegations of irregularities, the firm’s president told senators on Tuesday that “there is always corruption” in the agency.
A year since President Rodrigo Duterte appointed Ricardo Morales, a retired Army brigadier general, as PhilHealth president and CEO supposedly to rid the agency of corruption, the state insurer is once again facing investigations into alleged anomalies.
During a Senate hearing, Senator Sonny Angara asked Morales what he thought about resigned Senior Vice President for Operations Augustus de Villa’s remark that he believes there is corruption within the agency.
De Villa earlier tendered his “irrevocable resignation” to Morales amid congressional probes faced by PhilHealth.
During the hearing, the resigned official disclosed that he quit his post out of “delicadeza,” among other reasons.
“…Naniniwala ako na hindi ako babagay na magsilbi pa sa isang ahensya ng gobyerno na punong-puno ng alegasyon ng korapsyon at katiwalian,” De Villa said, adding that he believes there is truth to allegations of corruption within the state-run insurance company.
Asked about what he thought about De Villa’s pronouncement, Morales said: “There is always corruption in PhilHealth.”
“But I think the specific incident he (De Villa) was referring to was during the last Senate hearing when Atty. Keith identified Gen. De Villa as pinpointing who the mafia in PhilHealth was and these were the senior vice presidents,” he added, referring to “whistleblower” former anti-fraud legal officer Thorrsson Montes Keith.
“At that time, the senior vice presidents (SVPs) identified looked at Gen. De Villa and I felt that the confidence between Gen. De Villa, a senior member of the management staff, and the SVPs was seriously compromised,” he added.
The PhilHealth chief, meanwhile, vouched for De Villa, a fellow former military man.
“He has always been straightforward to me, he’s frank, he expresses his opinion freely and I respect him,” Morales said.
Earlier in the hearing, Morales also admitted that the “systemic” fraud within the agency could not be solved in one year, or even in years to come.
“Fraud has always been in the system as it has always been in all similar health systems in the world,” he said.
PhilHealth is currently subjected to separate investigations of the Senate, the House of Representatives and the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC).
The PACC had already submitted an initial report on its investigation. It recommended the filing of graft and corruption cases against 36 high-ranking and mid-level officials of the state health insurer. [ac]
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