PACC: Over P153 billion lost to PhilHealth 'dysfunction' in 5 years

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 16 2020 06:22 PM | Updated as of Oct 17 2020 03:31 AM

A man looks at the sign of a PhilHealth local office in Quezon City, June 7, 2019. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA - "Dysfunction" in state medical insurer PhilHealth led to losses worth over P153 billion in 5 years, the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) said Friday, as the coronavirus pandemic raged. 

The PACC in March 2019 first received reports on the "dysfunction of PhilHealth due to failed policies, fraud and other anomalies which led to losses estimated at P153.7 billion in a period of 5 years, from 2013 to 2019," said PACC chairperson Dante Jimenez. 

Allegations of corruption against PhilHealth include overpayment, ghost patients, unnecessary procedures, fake receipts and laxity in premium collection, he said in a virtual presser. 

“It appears that corruption has been systematic—from top to bottom of PhilHealth management,” Jimenez said. 

The PACC came out with the report just as PhilHealth owed over P1 billion in debt to the Philippine Red Cross for COVID-19 tests, prompting the latter to halt testing. 

The PACC also found that corruption in PhilHealth is rooted in its "highly fragmented" information technology system and "prehistoric" accounting system, which make the monitoring of funds difficult, said Commissioner Greco Belgica. 

"The problem was more than against the people, or the corrupt people, but was really about the system, iyong kanilang (their) IT system, accounting system," he said in the briefing. 

“That’s why hindi masolve-solve kahit palitan nang palitan ang mga tao, hindi mo naman pinalitan ang sistema, wala ring nabago o paulit-ulit lang po.” 
(That is why the problem cannot be solved. Even if you replace the people there without changing the system, the problem will just be repeated.)

The PACC assisted a task force formed by President Rodrigo Duterte in its investigation, which recently led to the filing of charges against former PhilHealth CEO and president Ricardo Morales and other officials, he said. 

The PACC will continue investigating PhilHealth and its overseer, the Department of Health, with the help of the Anti-Money Laundering Council, Jimenez said. 

"Even iyong mga DOH officials na maaaring nagmanipula ng PhilHealth, puwede po silang tamaan dito. Hindi pa po tapos ang laban," he said.

(Even the DOH officials who could have manipulated PhilHealth could be hit here. The fight is not yet over.) 

The PACC's investigation is limited to the criminal liability of presidential appointees, and cannot be divulged to the public, said Belgica. 

Morales' successor Dante Gierran recently told PhilHealth senior officials to tender their courtesy resignation, which led to the exit of 43 people from the state health insurer.