Senate OKs report vs PhilHealth execs tagged in alleged illegal release of COVID-19 funds

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 07 2020 07:30 PM | Updated as of Sep 10 2020 04:23 PM

MANILA (UPDATED/CORRECTED) - The Senate on Monday adopted the Committee of the Whole's report that recommended the filing of criminal charges against PhilHealth officials and hospitals involved in the alleged disbursement of COVID-19 funds to health facilities not tending to coronavirus patients.

While Senate Report No. 107 earlier recommended the filing of graft and malversation charges against high-ranking Health officials, more suggestions were included in the document after the measure hurdled the chamber's period of amendments.

Among the new recommendations under the Senate Committee of the Whole are as follows:

FOR HEALTH SEC. FRANCISCO DUQUE III
- to heed the call of 14 senators to resign from his post due to failure of leadership, negligence, lack of foresight, lack of transparency

FOR PHILHEALTH
- to immediately report on accurate... and data-based analysis of the actuarial life of the corporation
- to issue a certification under oath that a thorough review of the medical claims was done
- to allow the expeditious conduct of a Commission on Audit review

FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
- to look into granting immunity for whistleblowers
- to conduct a through and swift investigation on the diversion and malversation of PhilHealth funds through fraudulent schemes
- to investigate and file charges against those involved in the overpricing of COVID-19 testing kits

FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGY
- to clarify the process which agencies must follow in mending information systems strategic plan

FOR THE GOVERNANCE COMMISSION FOR GOVERNMENT-OWNED AND -CONTROLLED CORPORATIONS (GOCCs) 
- to review and implement limits on compensation, allowances, incentives of members of the PhilHealth's board of directors

FOR THE ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING COUNCIL
- to determine who deposited P9.7 million, intended for the reimbursement of B. Braun Avitum Philippines in PhilHealth’s Region 2 office, in Balanga Rural Bank in Bataan in May 2019, and how that happened 

FOR THE SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
- to disclose and make public the incorporators, officers of B Braun Avitum Philippines

FOR THE SENATE COMMITTEE
- to revisit the Universal Health Care Law and the National Health Insurance Act to clarify the nature and scope of payment mechanisms which may be implemented by PhilHealth
- to amend the composition of the Board of Directors of PhilHealth to make the Finance secretary -- instead of the Health secretary -- the ex-officio chair of the board

FOR CONGRESS
- to pass a measure strengthening the country's existing whistleblower program

Despite the detailed report of the Senate, the chamber remains to be an oversight body that is not authorized to file cases before any court.

(Editor's note: Our initial story uploaded on Sept. 7, 2020 erroneously reported that B. Braun Avitum was the owner of an account in the Balanga Rural Bank where P9.7 million had been deposited by PhilHealth. In a letter to ABS-CBN News, B. Braun Avitum said, "It is quite clear that the Senate Committee report identified the owner of the bank account as Rural Bank of Balanga, and not B. Braun Avitum as stated in your summary. It is an important distinction, because it demonstrates that the company is not involved in any anomaly within the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, and in fact is the aggrieved party in the Balanga bank incident." We regret the error.)