MANILA - The Philippine Health Insurance Corp on Thursday rejected claims that the alleged missing P15 billion funds were stolen, saying they went to hospitals to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Well, the P15-billion issue they went to the hospitals, partner facilities of PhilHealth, 711 in all nationwide," the agency's spokesperson Rey Baleña told ANC.
"These funds were used to ensure that they are kept open, servicing our patients who will be affected by the pandemic."
The state-run health insurer maintained that the funds were not lost to corruption.
"It wasn't stolen. Because the fact that the hospitals received them, the fact that the hospitals were able to use these funds for their services to our patients, the fact that they are reporting this back to PhilHealth in the form of liquidation, these are proofs that the funds are not stolen," Baleña said.
He said P13.8 billion or 92 percent of the funds had been liquidated. The agency could present to the public full liquidation of the funds by next month.
"We have given the hospitals some leeway in submitting their liquidation given the situation, the constraints that they are facing," Baleña said.
"So, the reports are coming in and we're happy that by next month, we will be complete with this liquidation."
PhilHealth also assured the public they scrutinized every claim made by hospitals. They will investigate if there are cases of "padding, upcasing or upgrading" of these claims.
"If the hospitals will be found guilty of these violations, they will be meted with the corresponding penalty," Baleña said.
Former PhilHealth president and CEO Ricardo Morales resigned in 2020 after he and other officials were accused of pocketing P15 billion, approving alleged overpriced projects, and releasing funds to supposedly favored hospitals.
The agency's former anti-fraud official resigned in July due to alleged widespread corruption, questioning the irregular disbursement of P15-billion fund to hospitals for COVID-19-related expenses.