Senate adopts panel report seeking raps vs Duque, others | Inquirer News

Senate adopts panel report seeking raps vs Duque, others

/ 07:11 PM September 07, 2020

Committee of the Whole report: Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III incorporates amendments introduced by colleagues in the Committee of the Whole report on the Senate inquiry on alleged rampant corruption in the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) during Monday’s plenary session, September 7, 2020. Joseph Vidal/Senate PRIB

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate adopted on Monday the Senate Committee of the Whole’s report on the alleged anomalies in the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth), which recommended the filing of criminal raps against its former president Ricardo Morales, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and several other officials over the alleged misuse of the agency’s funds.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III, chair of the committee, first sponsored the report on the plenary floor last week.

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Duque, who vowed to clear his name, has since dismissed the committee’s findings as “baseless” that were made on “mere allegations alone.”

The report contains the panel’s findings and recommendations after it embarked in a series of hearings, which dug deep into alleged irregularities within PhilHealth.

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These include the supposedly questionable release of funds under the corporation’s Interim Reimbursement Mechanism (IRM); the procurement of allegedly overpriced IT equipment; and the supposed manipulation of the corporation’s financial status.

“Senate approves the Committee of the Whole Report [regarding] PhilHealth anomalies. It’s now officially a Senate Report,” Sotto told reporters in a message.

Prior to its adoption, senators introduced several amendments to the panel report, most of which consisted of additional recommendations in a bid to prevent anomalies and fraudulent activities in PhilHealth from happening again.

Amendments

Among these amendments included a recommendation to the Department of Justice (DOJ) to look into granting immunity to witnesses who will testify against erring, corrupt PhilHealth officials.

The amended committee report also urged PhilHealth to submit to the Commission on Audit a  certification stating that PhilHealth has conducted a thorough review of the medical claims of its members.

Further, PhilHealth was urged to “immediately report on an accurate, truthful, realistic, and data-based analysis and determination of the actuarial life of the corporation to enable it to judiciously allocate its funds and if necessary, to allow the government to effectively intervene towards the desired plan for the corporation.”

The report also asked the DOJ and the Ombudsman to conduct a “thorough and swift” investigation into the “diversion and malversation of PhilHealth funds through fraudulent schemes, including probable collusion between PhilHealth officials/employees and private individuals.”

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Likewise, the report also recommended to the DOJ and the Ombudsman to conduct a thorough review of the biddings and procurement of multi-million contracts and look into “allegations relating to recurring winning bidders and possible collusion.”

Another additional recommendation urged the joint oversight body of Congress on the Universal Healthcare (UHC) law to “promptly and regularly conduct a review” of the measure’s implementation.

Aside from the Senate probe, PhilHealth is also facing separate corruption investigations by the House of Representatives, the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission and a high-level task force created by President Rodrigo Duterte and led by the DOJ.

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