Task force endorses criminal, admin raps vs ex, current PhilHealth officials for alleged corruption

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 12 2021 05:25 PM

Task force endorses criminal, admin raps vs ex, current PhilHealth officials for alleged corruption 1
A man looks at the sign of a PhilHealth local office in Quezon City, June 7, 2019. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — The inter-agency task force the President directed to investigation alleged corruption at the Philippine Health Insurance Corp (PhilHealth) on Tuesday endorsed to the Office of the Ombudsman findings of the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) recommending criminal and administrative charges against 25 former and current officials of the state health insurer. 

The said officials were tagged in an alleged fake membership and benefits claim scheme in one of the agency’s regional offices. The Department of Justice, which leads the task force, has yet to release their names as of this posting. 

The PACC investigation had shown that a fake account was created under the name "Pamela Del Rosario" in PhilHealth Region I and that contributions were retroactively applied and antedated. 

A total of 27 fraudulent claims that amounted to P1.1 million were supposedly made under the fake account, according to Justice Assistant Secretary Neal Bainto.

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The PACC also recommended the filing of charges against the state insurer’s officials and employees who were tasked to investigate the alleged fraudulent scheme but failed to prosecute those involved. 

The 25 individuals will face the following charges, according to the recommendation of the PACC to the Ombudsman: 

  •  Falsification by public officer (Article 171, Revised Penal Code)
  •  Malversation (Article 217, RPC)
  •  Usurpation of authority (Article 177, RPC)
  •  Violations of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (RA 3019)
  •  Violations of the National Health Insurance Act (RA 7875)
  •  Administrative liabilities for grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service
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Asked how Task Force PhilHealth validated PACC’s report, Bainto said the panel “discussed and deliberated" on the it "several times.”

“PACC's report was also validated by the DOJ and we found it sufficient to be filed before the Ombudsman,” he said.

In October last year, the task force filed malversation and graft charges against former PhilHealth president and CEO Ricardo Morales and several other agency officials over allegedly irregular fund disbursements to hospitals in Metro Manila under the Interim Reimbursement Mechanism (IRM).

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Morales resigned as head of PhilHealth in August due to health reasons, as the agency faced a corruption investigation. 

A separate Senate probe revealed that PhilHealth released P14 billion in COVID-19 funds to some 632 health care institutions as of June 9 last year, of which P231.15 million were given to dialysis centers and maternity clinics which did not cater to COVID-19 patients. 

The alleged anomalies at the state health insurer emerged in the middle of the country's health crises brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.