8 PhilHealth execs suspended for 6 months over reimbursement funds mess

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 28 2020 08:02 PM | Updated as of Oct 28 2020 08:25 PM

The facade of the PhilHealth Head Office in Pasig City on September 5, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — The Office of the Ombudsman issued Wednesday a 6-month preventive suspension order against 8 officials of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) over their involvement in the allegedly anomalous implementation of the Interim Reimbursement Mechanism (IRM).

In a resolution signed by Ombudsman Samuel Martires, ordered suspended without pay were the following executives:

  • Chief Operating Officer Arnel De Jesus
  • Executive Vice President Renato Limsiaco
  • Senior Vice President Dr. Israel Pargas
  • Area Vice President Gregorio Rulloda
  • Benefits Administration Section Head Dr. Imelda Trinidad De Vera-Pe
  • Manager Lolita Tuliao
  • Fiscal Examiner Gemma Sibucao
  • Fiscal Controller Lailani Padua

"The suspension order is in relation to the investigation being done by the Ombudsman on administrative cases of grave misconduct, serious dishonesty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service." the resolution read.

The IRM is a system of early fund disbursements to hospitals in case of unforeseen events. Recent investigations by lawmakers found alleged irregularities in the release of IRM funds earlier this year, as dialysis centers, maternity facilities and infirmaries that were not catering to COVID-19 patients were among the recipients.

Based on the records of the Ombudsman after the filing of complaints by the National Bureau of Investigation, the officials accorded private entities unwarranted benefits by failing to check the track record of the applicants in terms of rendering health care services.

"Respondents facilitated these anomalies by affixing their signatures on official documents causing the release of the questioned IRM funds," the Ombudsman said.

PhilHealth President and Chief Executive Officer Dante Gierran was directed by the Ombudsman to implement the order, which is "immediately executory."

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