PhilHealth officials: NBI accusations 'sweeping, irresponsible, insensitive'
MANILA, Philippines – The 21 accreditation officials of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth) called graft accusations filed against them by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on Wednesday, August 28, "sweeping," "irresponsible," and "insensitive."
In press briefing on Friday, August 30, Lolita Tuliao, a member of the accreditation sub-committee of Philhealth-National Capital Region (NCR), said they “were clearly denied of due process” as their names were released through media “before the charges reached [them].” She was among the 21 officials accused.
The NBI on Wednesday filed with the Department of Justice (DOJ) graft complaints against the said Philhealth officials for failing to flag the fraudulent claims of the Wellmed Dialysis Center, whose owner and two officials also faced charges of estafa from the NBI in June.
The NBI said Wellmed's accreditation was renewed on January 4, 2019, despite submitting incomplete documents. Wellmed was not required to submit its updated financial statement. This was a violation of the Accreditation Subcommittee's mandate, the NBI said.
The NBI said the 21 Philhealth officials violated the National Health Insurance Act, the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, and the Code of Conduct of Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.
Tuliao said that they were not made aware of the accusations lodged against them before these were made public. "We are clearly being subjected to trial by publicity," Tuliao said.
“The NBI appears to have copied the names from a document we submitted that contained the constituted members of the Accreditation Subcommittee from 2018-2019 without subjecting us to investigation or verification,” the statement by the accused officials read.
“We were not given the opportunity to explain, hence we were clearly denied of due process,” Tuliao added.
But Tuliao said there was no reason to include all 21 names in the complaint. She explained that the NBI failed to look at minutes of meetings that would have shown not all of the accused officials attended accreditation committee meetings related to Wellmed.
Tuliao added that the NBI misconstrued the roles of the 21 officials, saying it was not even within her function to approve an accreditation.
Despite this, the accused officials said they were “ready to face the accusation at the proper venue and be given due process.”
Philhealth president and chief executive officer Ricardo Morales said Tuliao’s statement was meant to represent the 21 officials and not Philhealth as a whole. He said the corporation is cooperating with the NBI and other investigating bodies to weed out corruption from Philhealth. – Rappler.com