MANILA — Sen. Panfilo Lacson said Friday he would seek a fresh investigation into the alleged corruption at the Philippine Health Insurance Corp (PhilHealth), which supposedly led to an online shouting match among officials and the resignation of an officer.
"I am now drafting a resolution calling for a Senate Committee of the Whole inquiry. As expressed by SP Sotto to me last night, this inquiry will be one of the Senate's top agenda after our session resumes on Monday," he said in a statement.
The reported argument allegedly "involving almost P1 billion worth of questionable transactions, including a total overprice of P98 million—if true, says it all," said Lacson.
Lawyer Thorrsson Montes Keith, who resigned Thursday, said in his resignation letter that the mandatory payment of PhilHealth contribution by overseas Filipino workers was unconstitutional and it was against his values to let OFWs "pay for the spillages" of the agency.
He also said he was stepping down due to an alleged unfair job promotion process, and delayed salaries and hazard pay after he investigated some officers in the agency as its anti-fraud legal officer.
Reports quoting sources said the corruption allegations were the topic of a shouting match among officials in a Zoom meeting on Thursday evening.
For the alleged corruption inside PhilHealth to occur during the coronavirus "makes it more disgusting and abominable," said Lacson.
"Nakakasuya na sobra (it's excessively distasteful). Needless to say, there is urgency that the Senate has to act on the matter immediately, as part of its oversight mandate, having passed the Universal Health Law," he said.
PhilHealth will lead the rollout of the law that provides expanded healthcare benefits.
The Senate last year investigated alleged instances of conflict of interest between PhilHealth and the Department of Health. The probe covered DOH contracts that went to a pharmaceuticals firm owned by relatives of Secretary Francisco Duque III, whose family also owned a building rented by PhilHealth.
Morales in 2019 replaced PhilHealth Acting President and CEO Roy Ferrer after he and other board members resigned over the agency's payments to a dialysis center for patients who were already dead.
Senators "had high hopes the shenanigans at PhilHealth would end with a new leadership," said Lacson.
"Sad to say, how wrong we were," he added.
Morales earlier Friday said his "vengeful" subordinate made corruption allegations because his application for a different post at the PhilHealth was rejected.
Morales also denied the reported resignation of 2 other PhilHealth officers due to corruption allegations. He said a corporate counsel denied that he was quitting his post, while Morales' head executive assistant resigned to pursue a doctoral degree.
In June, the PhilHealth chief belied allegations of P154 billion in missing funds and a supposed large-scale syndicate defrauding the agency, after presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said Morales allegedly failed to curb corruption in the agency.