Lacson: PhilHealth ‘mafia back with a vengeance’, as corruption allegations persist

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 01 2020 02:38 AM

MANILA - Sen. Panfilo "Ping" Lacson on Friday said he knows witnesses who are "willing to testify and detail" the alleged corruption at the Philippine Health Insurance Corp (PhilHealth).

He earlier filed Senate Resolution No. 475, urging the higher chamber to constitute the Committee of the Whole to look into the "alleged rampant corruption, incompetence and inefficiency" that could lead to the bankruptcy of the state-run health insurance agency.

"At the outset, I can say that this new Senate investigation will reveal the same cast of characters, or at least a number of them, that we already exposed in a Senate inquiry in August last year after my 'PhilHealth and the Department of Wealth' privilege speech on July 29, 2019," the senator said in a statement.

"I would say, the syndicate is back with a vengeance – or at least its core group has never left."

Lacson lamented it was "revolting to see the PhilHealth mafia very much active," as the agency struggles to manage its decreasing resources, which have been used covering the medical treatment costs of coronavirus patients in the country.

"They must have mastered the art of influence-peddling as they seem to continue to gain access to the 'corridors of power'," the senator said.

The allegations involving Philhealth stemmed from the resignation of the agency's anti-fraud legal officer, Thorrsson Montes Keith, who earlier said he was also stepping down from his post because of unfair job promotion process.

Keith also cited the delayed salaries and hazard pay as reason for his resignation, which allegedly started when he investigated some officers in the state-run insurance agency, he wrote in his letter obtained by ABS-CBN News.

PhilHealth president and CEO Ricardo Morales told ANC he would not resign and that he would face the Senate inquiry over the allegations, as there is no evidence to prove any wrongdoing.

Reports of irregularities at PhilHealth came as the Philippines continues to struggle fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, with more than 93,000 local cases of the deadly virus.