Accountability of PhilHealth board ‘lacking’ in Senate, task force’s report — Recto
MANILA, Philippines — The reports of the Senate and the inter-agency task force that looked into the alleged corruption in the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) lacked in pointing out the accountability of the firm’s board members on allegations of irregularities hounding the agency, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said Tuesday.
“To me, I think what is lacking in both the Senate and in the DOJ (Department of Justice) reports, which frankly I have not read yet although I am only commenting on newspaper accounts, is the accountability on the members of the board itself,” Recto told CNN Philippines in an interview.
“None of the recommendations have included the accountability of the members of the board,” he added.
Recto pointed out that it should have been the PhilHealth board, and not the Senate, that monitors the leadership and management of the state-run insurer.
He noted that all stakeholders in the healthcare system, such as officials of the Departments of Health, Finance, Budget and Management, Social Welfare and Development, and Labor and Employment, were all included in the board to ensure proper management of PhilHealth.
“If the board did its job, then there should be no problem,” said Recto.
“Bakit pinabayaan ng board ang PhilHealth considering that PhilHealth is one of the most important GOCCs [government-owned and controlled corporations] that we have?” he also asked.
(Why did the board neglect PhilHealth considering it is one of the most important GOCCs that we have?)
The senator likewise noted that the PhilHealth board has neglected “all the work that we have put in over the years to ensure that we have a good healthcare system, which should have served us well now during a time of pandemic.”
Recto added that further investigation should be done by the Office of the Ombudsman, noting that the Department of Justice, which led the Taskforce PhilHealth, is only a recommendatory body to President Rodrigo Duterte.
Duterte earlier approved the recommendation of the task force to file criminal and administrative cases against former PhilHealth chief Ricardo Morales and several other officials alleged irregularities in the agency.
Aside from Morales, among those who will be charged criminally and administratively are Senior Vice President Jovita Aragona, officer-in-charge Calixto Gabuya Jr., SVP Renato Limsiaco, SVP Israel Francis Pargas, COO Arnel de Jesus, and division chief Bobby Crisostomo.
Allegations of irregularities hurled against PhilHealth include those involved in the procurement of alleged overpriced IT equipment; the supposedly questionable release of funds under its Interim Reimbursement Mechanism; and the alleged manipulation of the corporation’s financial status.
Before the task force submitted its findings to Duterte, the Senate Committee of the Whole also recommended the filing of cases against Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, who also chairs the PhilHealth board, as well as Morales and several top-ranking officials of the firm.
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