Gordon calls for resumption of Senate probe into PhilHealth over alleged anomalies at regional hospitals

Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 20 2021 01:23 AM

MANILA — After months of getting so-called reprieve, officials at state insurer Philippine Health Insurance Corp., including its regional officers and provincial health officers, will have to return to the Senate for another Blue Ribbon Committee investigation.

Senator Richard Gordon, the committee's chairman, told ABS-CBN News that he intended to resume the PhilHealth investigation, after finding out about provincial hospitals that allegedly collected fees more than their registered bed capacity. 

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“I have a report and I’ll be glad to furnish (PhilHealth president and CEO Dante) Gierran a copy . . . 'Yung mga ginawa ng tauhan ng PhilHealth na ipinire (fire) in the past, dapat ayusin, dapat singilin 'yan,” Gordon said in a phone interview. 

(I have a report . . . on what the PhilHealth staff, who were fired, did in the past. We need to make them accountable.) 

The senator also planned to investigate some regional hospitals that have allegedly overcharged their claims from PhilHealth.

The state insurer, Gordon also pointed out, still owed the Philippine Red Cross, a nongovernment organization Gordon heads, about P700 million as of February 16. 

Such amount was supposedly for the COVID-19 tests conducted by Red Cross, the recorded entries or submitted documents of which were being questioned or disputed by PhilHealth.

“They keep saying mali (wrong). Hindi pwedeng sabihing mali, because we only test what they (PhilHealth) give us. Ang gusto nila kami maga-ayos (ng records). Eh paano mo aayusin ang nag-test (ay ang Philippine) Coast Guard." 

(They cannot say that what Red Cross did was wrong. They want us to fix the records? It was the Coast Guard who did the test.) 

The Senate Committee of the Whole last year recommended the filing of graft and malversation charges against Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, who chairs the PhilHealth board, resigned PhilHealth president Ricardo Morales, and other executives of the state firm after they allegedly authorized the release of COVID-19 funds to health facilities not catering to coronavirus patients.

But PhilHealth rejected claims late January that the alleged missing P15-billion funds were stolen, saying it went to hospitals to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

The agency's spokesperson, Rey Baleña, said in an interview on ANC that the 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.

A former anti-fraud official from PhilHealth resigned in July due to alleged widespread corruption, questioning the irregular disbursement of P15-billion fund to hospitals for COVID-19-related expenses.

Morales, meanwhile, also stepped down in 2020 after he and other officials were accused of pocketing P15 billion, approving alleged overpriced projects, and releasing funds to supposedly favored hospitals.

WATCH: PhilHealth says 92 percent of 'stolen' P15-billion funds were 'liquidated,' not missing | TeleRadyo

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