House Committee on Public Accounts chairman Michael Defensor (File photo)
MANILA – House Committee on Public Accounts chairman Michael Defensor on Wednesday recommended the filing of plunder charges against all officials of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) involved in the so-called “mafia” that runs various fraudulent schemes.
During a joint House hearing on the alleged graft and corrupt practices in PhilHealth, Defensor questioned the sharp rise in the number of claims for various health cases with the state insurer over the years.
Defensor pointed out that this could be one of the schemes of the mafia in the agency, particularly noting faster transactions in private hospitals compared to government hospitals.
“We know on the regional level, meron kayong tinatawag na Benefits Claim Committee. At dahil may case rate setup, ibibigay na lang ‘yun sa Finance (you have a so-called Benefits Claim Committee. And through a case rate setup, this could just be submitted to the Finance [Committee],” he said “Pagdating sa Finance, walang tanong-tanong dahil submitted ng region, babayaran agad. At pagdating diyan, lalabas na ang pondo sa mga ospital (When it reaches the Finance, no questions asked because it was submitted by the region and it will immediately be paid for. Afterwards, the funds will be released to the hospitals).”
Defensor said these activities are tantamount to plunder as he proposed that charges be filed against the PhilHealth officials involved.
“I submit to the members of this committee, this in fact is plunder. ‘Yung bilyon-bilyong nawala ay plunder (The billions of pesos lost constitutes plunder),” he said.
Defensor recommended to also file charges against officials at the regional level “dahil lalabas diyan sinong ospital ang nakinabang, sinong kakutsaba (because the hospitals that benefited from this scheme would be revealed).”
“Dahil malinaw naman ang records ng COA (Commission on Audit) at madali itong imbestigahan (The COA records are clear and it will be easier to investigate this),” he added.
On Friday, President Rodrigo Duterte directed the Department of Justice to create a task force to probe the supposed widespread corruption within PhilHealth.
The President’s order came after resigned PhilHealth anti-fraud officer Thorsson Montes Keith claimed that some PHP15 billion of the agency’s funds had been pocketed by some corrupt officials.
Keith also claimed that all members of the state firm’s executive committee composed the “mafia”, which had been allegedly siphoning funds from PhilHealth in the past years through fraudulent transactions. (PNA)