‘Mapapamura ka’: Zubiri slams PhilHealth anew for disregarding COA requirements
MANILA, Philippines — If you ask Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri on how bad are the allegations of corruption surrounding the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), the brief answer is “mapapamura ka” (you can only curse).
According to Zubiri, the latest revelations that PhilHealth did not subscribe to the Commission on Audit (COA) requirements that documents be submitted were signs that the government-controlled health insurance company was hiding something.
The senator’s rant during the Senate’s hearing on Tuesday came after COA Representative Director Cleotilde Tuazon revealed that they are having problems dealing with PhilHealth because it refused to submit documents immediately.
“We heard it from the horse’s mouth, from the representative of COA, hirap na hirap silang kumuha ng dokumento dito sa ahensyang ito, we heard it from the NBI as well […] that they are having a hard time getting the documents from PhilHealth as well,” Zubiri said.
“Ibig sabihin may tinatago siguro sila Mr. President. Mapapamura ka ng **pucha, magagalit ka talagang pu*** talaga dahil sa nangyayaring ito, pera ng taong bayan ito, para sa mahihirap Mr. President,” he added. “‘Yong daliri hindi lamang dapat putilin, dapat makulong talaga.”
During the Senate hearing, Zubiri asked if anyone could confirm that PhilHealth has not been cooperative with agencies conducting an investigation on the corruption allegations surrounding it.
Tuazon then relayed their experience with the agency.
“Actually, yan po ang naging basis ng qualification namin ng opinion kung bakit disclaimer ang opinion na ibinigay namin sa kanila, because they did not give us the documents and we were not also given full access of the system. It was only late, late na,” Tuazon said “month of May na po nung nabigyan kami, in which case tapos na yung audit period namin.”
“Even dun po sa mga contracts, meron po tayong regulation na ang contracts within 5 days after na napirmahan ang mga contracts, it has to be submitted to COA with all the supporting documents including yung mga bidding documents na yun, pero as you’ll know po dun sa 2018 audit report namin […] hindi sila nagsusubmit ng mga documents,” she added.
PhilHealth is currently in turmoil after sources revealed last July that one PhilHealth official — who eventually turned out to be anti-fraud officer Thorrsson Montes Keith — resigned due to widespread corruption within the health insurance company.
Keith said that members of syndicate within PhilHealth managed to fatten their pockets with P15 billion to schemes they perpetrated. Eventually, it was revealed that some of PhilHealth’s procurements were overpriced — including an Adobe master collection software priced P21 million — 12,400 times higher than normal rates.
In 2019, the Philippine Daily Inquirer also ran a series of investigative reports showing that PhilHealth made it appear that dead patients are still receiving dialysis, to siphon money from the industry.
The agency has been affected by corruption strongly that PhilHealth might collapse by 2022 if the COVID-19 pandemic persists. However, Marikina Rep. Stella Quimbo said that a collapse would only happen because computations for expected expenses are overestimated — which also opens avenues for corruption.xec
Zubiri on the other hand says PhilHealth’s move to deny access to documents almost proves the existence of a “mafia.”
“Parang lumalabas talagang may mafia dito sa loob, they’re protecting something. Imagine a mere clerk in a small office of government, may mawawalan ng ilang piso, may mawawala na isang materyales ng gobyerno, ikukulong,” he explained.
“Ito ay bilyon-bilyong piso hawak nila, kaban ng bayan, pera ng bayan, Mr. President, pero hindi naman sila nagpapaCOA, nagpapaaudit at nagpapaimbestiga,” he added. [ac]
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