MANILA - A former party-list lawmaker on Friday called on Health Sec. Francisco Duque III and Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) President Ricardo Morales to explain the allegedly irregular allocation of millions of pesos to some hospitals amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
This, after official data showed that the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) in Davao City, President Rodrigo Duterte's hometown, had the biggest share of interim reimbursement mechanism (IRM) funds among Philippine hospitals, despite the fact that Metro Manila has the most number of COVID-19 patients in the country.
Former Kabataan Party-list Rep. Terry Ridon cited the DOH's data as of August 11 (Tuesday) and compared Metro Manila and Davao Region's coronavirus cases and funding, showing doubtful discrepancies.
"NCR's (National Capital Region) total COVID cases stands at 76,870, and the amount of PhilHealth COVID funding it received for COVID cases is P4.35 billion. Per capita, NCR received PhilHealth funding of P56,589 per COVID patient," Ridon emphasized.
"Davao Region's total COVID cases stands at 1,572, and the amount it received for COVID cases is P891 Million. Per capita, Davao Region received PhilHealth funding of P566,793 per COVID patient."
"This is more than 10 times the per capita PhilHealth funding received by NCR, the epicenter of the coronavirus crisis," he stressed.
To date, Metro Manila has logged 79,374 COVID-19 cases since the coronavirus outbreak in the Philippines, while Davao Region only has 1,619 total infections.
Official data showed that the SPMC received P326 million worth of IRM funds, which was followed by the Philippine General Hospital in Manila with P263.3 million. The PGH is one of the hospitals that are exclusive for coronavirus patients in Metro Manila.
Another hospital in Davao, the Davao Regional Medical Center, also received P209 million while the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center, in virus-hotspot Cebu City, got P204 million.
Officials of DOH and PhilHealth earlier said that IRM funds for hospitals are based on past figures, amid allegations of corruption in the state insurance firm.
Several private hospitals meanwhile have complained that they haven't been receiving funds under the IRM.
"How PhilHealth made the decision to allocate scarce resources to a region relatively unaffected by the coronavirus should be answered no less by DOH Secretary Francisco Duque and PhilHealth President Ricardo Morales," Ridon said.
Besides being located in Duterte’s hometown, SPMC used to be headed by Health Undersecretary Leopold Vega, who was only recently appointed by the President to the DOH and was assigned as “treatment czar” for the government’s COVID-19 response.--With a report from Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News