Zubiri wants to amend PhilHealth law to include penalties for inaction vs fraud

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 12 2020 08:40 PM

MANILA - Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri on Wednesday pushed for the amendment of the law that created the Philippine Health Insurance Corp (PhilHealth) to penalize the state insurance firm's officials if they fail to act on reports of fraudulent claims and other anomalies in the agency.

There needs to be some "policy changes" after a Senate investigation found that despite numerous corruption allegations over the years, PhilHealth has not prosecuted any of its officials, Zubiri said in an online press conference.

"Walang cases na finile because the mafia is protecting their people on the ground. Kung may bata-bata system, wala talagang mangyayari," Zubiri said.

(Cases were not filed because the mafia is protecting their people on the ground. If there is a system like that, nothing will really happen with the fraudulent claims.)

"We need to put a penal provision for non-action of cases, non filing of cases," he said, referring to the National Health Insurance Act of 1995 that established PhilHealth.

Senators earlier criticized PhilHealth President Ricardo Morales for allegedly failing to flag "serious overpricing" issues that marred the insurance firm's modernization program.

The law should also be amended to put "more stringent qualifications" for officials who would be appointed or hired into the agency, the senator said.

Zubiri said several PhilHealth officials should be charged criminally or administratively, but stopped short of naming these individuals, saying he would rather "wait for hearings to finish."

The Senate is set to hold another hearing next week into the alleged irregularities in PhilHealth, with Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, who is PhilHealth's chair, expected to answer questions about "command responsibility."