CSC has 'express, delay lanes' for PhilHealth cases: official

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 31 2020 09:56 AM | Updated as of Aug 31 2020 10:03 AM

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MANILA -- An official of the Civil Service Commission (CSC) claimed Monday it had "express and delay lanes" for administrative cases against officials of state medical insurer PhilHealth, which is battling allegations of corruption and mismanagement. 

CSC Commissioner Aileen Lizada said her office found a "pattern" in its initial examination of "a variety of cases" against PhilHealth officials, including grave misconduct, oppression, and questionable assignments and employee promotion. 

"Mayroong express lane, mayroong delay lane... Hindi ko alam kung paborable sa mga kilala nila sa loob kasi kaya ho nilang patulugin ang kaso nang one year or 15 months," she told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo. 

(There is an express lane, there is a delay lane. I don't know if its favorable to those they know inside because they can make cases sleep for one year or 14 months.)
 
"May mga tao na mabilis ang pag-resolve ng cases nila. Hindi ko alam kung kakilala. May mga tao rin na ang bagal ng pag-resolve ng cases," she added. 

(There are people whose cases are resolved quickly. I don't know if they know someone inside CSC. There are also people whose cases are resolved slowly.)

Some PhilHealth officials had cases that were repeatedly dismissed, said Lizada, without identifying them. 

The CSC central office in several instances also took jurisdiction of cases that regional offices were investigating, or transferred investigations to the provinces, even when it shouldn't have, she claimed. 

A lawyer who used to work for PhilHealth is now with CSC and is tasked with resolving cases involving the insurer, said Lizada. She did not say who. 


SUPPRESSION OF INFO? 

Lizada last week also claimed that CSC Chair Alicia dela Rosa-Bala had instructed her agency to refrain from disclosing to the public information on cases concerning PhilHealth. 

Bala allegedly gave the guidance during an Aug. 11 meeting, after whistleblowers in a Senate hearing accused PhilHealth officials of pocketing billions of pesos in public funds and President Rodrigo Duterte created a task force to probe these claims, said Lizada. 

"Referring to the PhilHealth cases, sinabi po na this information must not be shared to the public or to anyone who asks us whether in aid of legislation or investigation," she told TeleRadyo. 

Lizada said she submitted an audio recording of the meeting to Congress. The minutes of the meeting, she added, did not reflect Bala's alleged instruction and the affirmative reply of CSC Assistant Commissioner Ariel Ronquillo. 

"Coming from the head of the office and you say that in a special meeting, what is the effect on those who hear it? Ano iyong gustong ipagawa sa amin? What are we hiding? Why are we not transparent?" said Lizada. 

COLLEAGUE FIRES BACK

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Ronquillo , however, said there was "no truth" to Lizada's accusation that he was asked to suppress information on PhilHealth. 

Lizada's voice has "equal weight" to that of Bala, he said. 

"Kung talaga pong ibinigay ni Chair iyong ganoong directive, during the meeting, kayang-kaya niya (Lizada) pong ipahinto iyon kasi commissioner po siya," said Ronquillo. "Ang commission po collegial body. Kapag nag-decide po ang commission, hindi puwedeng isang tao lang. 

(If the Chair really gave that directive during the meeting, Lizada should have stopped that because she is a commissioner. The commission is a collegial body. When the commission decides, it couldn't rest on just one person.)

Instead, Bala told CSC officials to "follow certain protocols in releasing these cases." Those pending cannot be discussed publicly and CSC has to abide by data privacy laws, he said. 

He also denied that there are express and delay lanes for PhilHealth issues. The CSC decides and reviews cases as a whole, he said. 

"Nagkakataon lang po na mayroon talagang mga kaso na mas mabilis, iyong iba nagtatagal. Pero hindi po sinasadya iyon," he said. 

(It's just coincidence that some cases are quick, others are delayed. But that is not deliberate.)

Lizada, for her part, urged colleagues to “lead by example.”
 
“Gawin lang ho natin iyong tama para ho we can protect the name of the institution. Let’s do our work properly, let’s abide by what is mandated of us," she said. "At kung may ipinapagawa po sa atin, pag-isipan po natin nang mabuti… We are serving the public. Public office is a public trust.”