MANILA - Senator JV Ejercito on Tuesday said he hopes there is no mafia within the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) after it reported an unaudited loss of nearly P9 billion last year.
Ejercito said the losses of PhilHealth was similar to that of the government's housing sector, where he suspects a mafia was responsible for substandard shelters for displaced families during typhoons and man-made calamities.
"The situation in PhilHealth is akin to the housing sector fiasco. Was there a mafia in PhilHealth? I hope not, but the multi-billion loss is more than a mismanagement issue and lack of leadership," he said in a meeting of the joint oversight committee.
"You in Philhealth have no choice but to step up and do your job better," he added.
PhilHealth interim president Dr. Celestina Dela Serna, meanwhile, explained that her office's reported loss was a result of a double entry of P4.1 billion in expenses, which was discovered by state auditors.
"We are also double checking the reports submitted by other offices for possible similar occurrences," she added.
"If we are to use our dashboard figures, which states that our payout for 2017 is only more or less P101 billion, we may even post a net income or even a positive financial statement."
Aside from PhilHealth's loss, the office also came under scrutiny after the Commission on Audit flagged the reimbursement of Dela Serna's travel expenses worth about P620,000.
A group of private hospitals also claimed that the agency owed billions of pesos in unsettled claims.
Dela Serna has maintained that the reimbursement of her travel expenses to and from Tagbilaran and Manila was "legal and above board."
She also said that PhilHealth has enough money to settle all its obligations.
Watch a live streaming of the oversight meeting here.