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Several PhilHealth officials agree to sign bank secrecy waivers

/ 09:34 PM August 12, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Several officials of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) agreed to sign bank secrecy waivers to allow the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to check their bank deposits and transactions.

It was Deputy Speaker Luis Raymund Villafuerte who posed the challenge against the officials amid fresh allegations of corrupt activities within the agency.

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“If they are saying they are innocent, the public is listening, this is very important. Can I ask PhilHealth officials if they have no objection if we request for an AMLC verification of their bank deposits and bank transaction?” Villafuerte said in his interpellation during the joint hybrid hearing of the House committee on government and public accountability and the committee on public accounts.

“Maybe all the officials here present and in Zoom, simple question lang. If they are innocent and they are not hiding anything, are they willing to sign a statement that the AMLC can verify their bank deposit or bank transactions. Kung wala silang ginagawang anomalya, walang ninakaw sa gobyerno, are they willing with no objection?” the lawmaker added.

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(If they have done nothing anomalous, nothing stole from the government, are they willing with no objection?)

One by one, PhilHealth officials present during the hearing responded on the affirmative—including those attending the hearing through videoconferencing.

Surigao del Norte 2nd District Representative Robert Ace Barbers, however, pointed out that those present in the hearing were not the top officials of the agency.

Barbers said that higher-ranking officials such as PhilHealth President and CEO Ricardo Morales and the senior vice presidents (SVPs) of the agency should also be asked to sign the waiver.

“The most important, those people that agreed are persons at the lower level of the structure of PhilHealth, sorry to say this. I guess if we would insist on asking them to waive their rights on their bank secrecy, we should ask General Morales, all the SVPs and all the RVPs of the PhilHealth because this is where the system seems to be failing which makes us conclude that there is indeed a mafia,” Barbers said.

Anakalusugan Rep. Mike Defensor, who chairs the House committee on public accounts, said that the committee will formally ask if the officials would agree to sign the said waiver.

Morales, however, left in the middle of the hearing after “not feeling well.”

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Two other PhilHealth officials also abruptly left the meeting later on due to other health reasons.

Aside from Morales, Executive Vice President Arnel De Jesus and Senior Vice President for Legal Sector Atty. Rodolfo del Rosario Jr. also left the hearing.

According to PhilHealth Acting Senior Vice President for actuary Nerissa Santiago, De Jesus had to leave the hearing for the replacement of the battery of his pacemaker.

Meanwhile, PhilHealth Senior Manager in the Internal Legal Department, Atty. Rogelio Pocallan, said that del Rosario “took a break” due to high blood pressure.

JPV
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