2 ex-PhilHealth execs to cooperate with probe: DOJ

MANILA – Two former officials of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) have agreed to disclose details of the anomalies hounding the state insurer, an official of the Department of Justice (DOJ) said Saturday. 

In a press statement, DOJ spokesperson, Undersecretary Markk Perete, said the individuals, who requested anonymity, have informed the Task Force PhilHealth during its meeting on Friday of the different fraudulent schemes allegedly employed through the years by PhilHealth officers and employees, both in its main and regional offices, in collusion with some doctors and hospitals, and even banks, which act as remittance centers.

“These schemes include the payment of false or fraudulent claims against the corporation, malversation of premiums, and the exploitation by some unscrupulous personalities of the case rate system and the interim reimbursement mechanism, among others,” Perete said.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, meanwhile, said the scope of the task force’s work would include “the completion of any ongoing investigations or special audits, and resolution of any pending cases, regarding PhilHealth irregularities (which) will be expedited.”

“At the same time, Task Force PhilHealth, as a composite group, will initiate fresh investigations on alleged anomalies that are not the subject of any ongoing investigation or audit,” Guevarra said.

He said they would focus on identified centers of fraud within the state health insurer and certain regional PhilHealth offices that have been “notorious for years.”

“We’ll collaborate with the legislative committees conducting probes in aid of legislation to speed up our work and avoid unnecessary duplication, so that we may take legal action immediately,” Guevarra said.

He added that the task force would conduct lifestyle checks on past and present PhilHealth officials “whose names have been repeatedly mentioned by witnesses and resource persons.”

The task force will also invite resource persons who have highlighted abuses and flaws in the corporation’s Legal Department and Information Technology office that allegedly made the proliferation of these schemes possible.

Before the hearing, members of the task force – convened by the Guevarra upon orders of President Rodrigo Duterte – met to discuss administrative and logistical matters relating to their work.

They agreed to conduct hearings as a whole, even as member agencies continue their respective investigations and audits.

However, it was agreed that any action by the agencies regarding PhilHealth would be coordinated through the task force, and any action towards the prosecution of PhilHealth officers and employees and their cohorts would be made through the task force and with the endorsement of Guevarra.

The participating agencies in the task force also reported the investigations currently pending with them and those that they have conducted to expedite the completion of their work with the assistance of the task force

They likewise agreed to harmonize efforts in the lifestyle checks that are underway and to be conducted by the different offices and agencies. 

Guevarra is the convenor of the task force, which is composed of representatives of the Office of the Ombudsman, Commission on Audit, Civil Service Commission, Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission, Office of the Special Assistant to the President, Anti-Money Laundering Council, National Bureau of Investigation, and National Prosecution Service. Benjamin Pulta / PNA – northboundasia.com