PhilHealth mess: Lacson seeks pandemic ‘moratorium on corruption’

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 06 2020 11:18 AM

PhilHealth President and CEO Ricardo Morales attends a Senate hearing on the fraudulent medical claims in PhilHealth, Aug. 14, 2019. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — A senator on Thursday urged the government’s health insurance corporation to impose a “moratorium on corruption” while the country struggles to address the coronavirus pandemic. 

Sen. Panfilo Lacson made the call after the Philippine Health Insurance Corp (PhilHealth) faced fresh allegations of corruption in a legislative hearing where 2 whistleblowers accused officials of approving hundreds of millions worth of overpriced procurement and fund release to supposedly favored hospitals. 

“We’re facing a pandemic. This is a serious health crisis. Mataas na iyong ating COVID cases. Baka naman puwedeng magkaroon tayo ng moratorium sa corruption,” he told ANC. 

(Our COVID cases are high. Perhaps we can have a moratorium on corruption.)

“Hopefully, iyong moratorium parang mag-serve as a dress rehearsal para maging permanent na iyong aversion sa corruption,” he added. 

(Hopefully, this moratorium serves as a dress rehearsal so that aversion to corruption becomes permanent.)

The 2 whistleblowers’ Senate testimony affirms allegations that “there seems to be a mafia-like syndicate operating in PhilHealth and this syndicate is composed of members of the [executive committee],” said Lacson. 

“We intend to dig deeper into [that] because if corruption has become systemic in an organization, there must be a deeply rooted group or a clique responsible for the corruption,” he said. 

Lacson also said PhilHealth President and CEO Ricardo Morales “could be both” corrupt and a bad manager. 

“Either one of 2 things happened to him: either he is continuously being misled by the execom, his own people; or he could have been coopted already,” he said. 

Morales, a former Army general, has denied that a criminal syndicate is embedded in his agency. 

President Rodrigo Duterte will not fire the PhilHealth chief “unless there’s evidence,” Malacañang said Wednesday.