MANILA (UPDATE) — Lawmakers on Tuesday asked the chairperson of the Civil Service Commission (CSC) to appear before a House panel after a colleague accused her of withholding information about some officials of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp (PhilHealth) who are facing charges.
The House Committee on Public Accounts threatened CSC chair Alicia Dela Rosa-Bala of contempt over her alleged directive to suppress information on PhilHealth cases pending at the commission.
This, after CSC commissioner Aileen Lizada bared before the panel that Bala allegedly asked them to withhold information about the cases filed against PhilHealth officials amid the ongoing legislative investigations into alleged widespread corruption at the state health insurer.
"If my recollection serves me right, [Bala said] these information should not be made public nor should be given out to anyone who would be asking either in aid of legislation or investigation. Parang ganun, 'yun ho 'yung matandaan ko sir (that's what I can recall)," Lizada said after being asked by lawmakers about Bala's alleged directive.
Lizada revealed there are 74 cases filed at the commission concerning PhilHealth officials from 2010 to 2020, while 19 cases are ongoing concerning several regional vice presidents.
These cases include administrative charges and grave misconduct, Lizada said.
Lizada questioned why the directive was omitted from the minutes of the meeting despite it being captured in the audio recording.
Several lawmakers moved to subpoena the supposed recording as well as documents pertaining to the ongoing cases against PhilHealth officials.
Warning Bala of possible contempt for her actions, the lawmakers asked her to appear before the panel on Thursday.
In a statement, Bala denied Lizada's allegations, calling it "patently false and misleading."
"As a matter of protocol, CSC Chairperson Bala observes the sub judice rule (restricts comments and disclosures pertaining to judicial proceedings to avoid prejudging the issue, influencing the court, or obstructing the administration of justice) especially with cases pending adjudication with the Commission," her statement said.
Bala also maintained she would never ask any CSC official or employee to withhold information, especially to lawmakers involved in the probe.
"Chairperson Bala would never ask any CSC official or employee to “suppress” the sharing of information that could otherwise be legally shared, more so before the House of Representatives Committee on Good Governance and Public Accountability," she added.
Alleged multibillion-peso corruption in the state-run health insurance agency, including supposedly overpriced procurement and overpayments to favored hospitals, was put on the spotlight anew following testimonies by whistleblowers.
—Report from Zandro Ochona, ABS-CBN News