Gordon seeks overhaul of state insurer 'Fail-Health'

Christian V. Esguerra, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 18 2020 09:16 PM | Updated as of Aug 19 2020 06:29 AM

MANILA--Sen. Richard Gordon on Tuesday pushed for a top-to-bottom revamp of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth), citing questionable practices over the years, including a surprise birthday party for a regional chief involving a woman in just her underwear coming out of a box.

The state-run health insurance company overpaid Olegario General Hospital in Misamis Occidental by P33.1 million, Dr. Sabili Health Services in Taguig City by P17.6 million, and Eastern Sun Medical Diagnostic Center in Zamboanga by around P20 million, according to Gordon.

"Did we ever punish these people? Did we ever investigate them? Have we ever prosecuted anybody? That answer is no. Zero prosecution," Gordon said during the Senate hearing, sarcastically describing PhilHealth as "Fail-Health." 

"Get the rascals out. Overhaul it, that is my recommendation," he added, noting that PhilHealth presidents served for an average of one-and-a-half years, some of them supposedly forced out by uncooperative officials in the agency.

Gordon also questioned payments allegedly advanced to an unaccredited hospital in Samar owned by relatives of Renato Limsiaco, PhilHealth senior vice president for fund management.

"Makikita n'yo may favoritism," the senator said.

Gordon also called out Paolo Yohan Perez, vice president for Region 4-B, over a birthday party.

"He received a gift in an enormous box--a girl dressed in nothing but her underwear danced and gyrated provocatively in front of Perez," he alleged.

"Perez enjoyed the performance and was seen smiling in the video. He did not prevent the incident or report an issue."

Perez denied that the "talent" was naked and said he had halted the program and told employees to take their lunch. 

"Wala po kong alam kasi birthday ko. It came as a surprise to me," he said.

Gordon said the incident showed that PhilHealth officers "had no control."