MANILA (UPDATE3) — Executive committee members of the state insurance corporation won’t be taking a leave of absence as the agency fights allegations of corruption, the spokesperson of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) said Monday.
A former anti-fraud officer PhilHealth, in a Senate hearing this month, tagged the whole PhilHealth execom as part of an alleged mafia that purportedly stole P15 billion in public funds. Whistleblowers also accused them of repeatedly approving millions of pesos worth of alleged overpriced equipment and software and fund release to supposedly favored hospitals.
PhilHealth spokesperson Dr. Shirley Domingo told ABS-CBN News on Monday evening she is revoking her comment earlier in the day on ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo that the agency's execom members will be taking a leave from work for five days.
“Ako ang nagbawi sa statement ko (I revoked my own statement). It was not yet confirmed. Execom still has to attend official investigations,” Domingo said in a text message.
PhilHealth President and CEO Ricardo Morales and Executive Vice President Arnel De Jesus earlier filed medical leaves and sought to skip the continuation of a Senate inquiry.
Over the weekend, 6 PhilHealth regional vice presidents also filed leaves of absence. The 6 officials are not part of the alleged mafia, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said.
"Hallelujah is all I have to say. That’s good for them, good for the country," Roque said when asked for reaction on Domingo's earlier announcement about the leave of the PhilHealth execom members.
The state health insurer last week suspended its advance deposits for hospitals, but this will not directly affect PhilHealth members who need medical coverage, Domingo said in the TeleRadyo interview.
“The effect is on the hospitals na may (which have a) problem sa financial liquidity nila,” she said.“We hope to be able to address all the issues within 2 weeks.”
While PhilHealth is addressing alleged fraudulent schemes by some hospitals and doctors, there is no “hard evidence” yet that its employees are involved in collusion, Domingo said.
“We already said there is insurance fraud. Matagal na po namin iyang ina-address,” she said. “Pero as to collusion with employees, wala pa tayong hard evidence on that.”
PhilHealth nonetheless will cooperate with the separate inquiries of the Senate and an inter-agency task force, she said.
Assistant Secretary Neal Vincent Bainto of the Department of Justice (DOJ) said in a separate TeleRadyo interview Monday afternoon that the task force to be led by the DOJ was already constituted last Friday, Aug. 14.
"Doon po sa memorandum of (President Rodrigo Duterte) kung saan inatasan niya ang DOJ, binigyan n'ya po ng 30-day period yung task force from its constitution para kumbaga makapaggawa ng actions and makapagrekomenda sa Presidente ng concrete legal actions na pwedeng gawin," Bainto said, specifying that these are calendar, and not working days.