CSC head disputes Lizada: No guidance to suppress info on cases vs PhilHealth execs
MANILA, Philippines — Civil Service Commission (CSC) Chair Alicia dela Rosa-Bala has dismissed allegations made by a fellow CSC official that there was a guidance to suppress information about cases filed against Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) officials.
Bala was reacting to remarks from CSC Commissioner Aileen Lizada made during a House of Representatives hearing on the PhilHealth anomaly on Monday, when the latter was asked whether there was a move to keep information away from the congressional bodies probing the irregularity at the agency.
According to Lizada, there was a guidance to keep information away, and it stemmed from Bala herself.
“[CSC] Chairperson Alicia dela Rosa-Bala vehemently denies the allegation of CSC Commissioner Aileen Lourdes A. Lizada during today’s Congressional hearing that there was guidance from the former to ‘suppress’ information on the cases filed against PhilHealth officials. The same is patently false and misleading,” a statement from CSC showed.
CSC’s message to reporters noted that the Bala was merely referring to the sub judice rule wherein comments about judicial proceedings and filed cases should not be made public to avoid prejudice and influencing the Courts.
“As a matter of protocol, CSC Chairperson Bala observes the sub judice rule (restricts comments and disclosures pertaining to judicial proceedings to avoid prejudging the issue, influencing the court, or obstructing the administration of justice)[i] especially with cases pending adjudication with the Commission,” CSC explained.
“Chairperson Bala would never ask any CSC official or employee to ‘suppress’ the sharing of information that could otherwise be legally shared, more so before the House of Representatives Committee on Good Governance and Public Accountability,” it added.
Lizada was one of the two CSC officials attending the House hearing on Tuesday morning, the other being Assistant Commissioner Ariel Ronquillo.
However, after Ronquillo refused to answer various questions thrown at him, lawmakers particularly Anakalusugan Rep. Mike Defensor who chairs the House committee on public accounts asked Lizada to clarify whether there was an attempt to hide information from the House panel.
To which, Lizada replied “Yes”. Ronquillo tried to refute Lizada saying that he was also in the meeting and could not remember such directives, but Lizada said there was a radio recording that would prove her claims.
Lizada also said that Ronquillo knew of these orders, and it was captured by the audio recording — which the House officials have moved to subpoena. If Lizada’s allegations were proven true, then CSC officials involved may be cited in contempt for not cooperating with the House probe.
PhilHealth has been rocked by a series of corruption allegations, from overpriced procurements up to the allocation of interim reimbursement mechanism funds for COVID-19 response, to non-COVID-19 hospitals.
It stemmed from the resignation of one of its officials last July 23. The official, who eventually turned out to be anti-fraud officer Thorrsson Montes Keith, said that members of a “mafia” within PhilHealth had already pocketed more than P15 billion in funds.
But this was not the first time PhilHealth under the current administration has been rocked by corruption scandals.
In 2019, the Philippine Daily Inquirer ran a series of investigative reports showing a scheme under which already dead patients were still undergoing dialysis and making claims from PhilHealth. [ac]
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