Indonesia

PhilHealth chief: ‘Premature’ to meet Duterte over corruption allegations

Bonz Magsambol
PhilHealth chief: ‘Premature’ to meet Duterte over corruption allegations
'Meron tayong inefficiencies. Merong maling pasok ng dokumento, mali ang pagfill up ng form, pero walang syndicate colluding to defraud the corporation at that scale,' PhilHealth President and CEO Ricardo Morales says

MANILA, Philippines – For Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) President and CEO Ricardo Morales, it was “premature” to go to President Rodrigo Duterte to discuss the corruption allegations in the agency following reports that P154-billion worth of funds could not be accounted for. 

“I think it is premature to go to the President without resolution. Noong pumasok ako (When I entered), that issue has already been in existence lalo na yang P154 billion na nawawala daw na pondo (especially the P154 billion missing funds),” Morales said during a televised briefing on Monday, June 22.

Morales cited the Commission on Audit report which said that it could not substantiate the missing P154 million funds. 

This development came after Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque’s statement last week that he would set up a meeting with Duterte and Morales to discuss the corruption allegation. 

Morales gave the assurance that there was no large-scale efforts to defraud PhilHealth. 

“I can assure you that there is no group of people colluding with each other to defraud PhilHealth in this scale, reported,” Morales said. 

No corruption, only ‘inefficiencies’

Morales said that PhilHealth was only suffering from “inefficiencies” in its operations due to the bulk of documents the state insurer is receiving. 

“Meron tayong inefficiencies. Merong maling pasok ng dokumento, mali ang pagfill [out] ng form, pero walang syndicate colluding to defraud the corporation at that scale, Morales said. 

(We have inefficiencies. We have errors on the input of documents, wrong filled out forms, but there’s no syndicate colluding to defraud the corporation at that large scale.)

According to Morales, PhilHealth is “very prominent” now because it is at the center of a public health emergency.

“It’s expected that people will be more—it will scrutinized the corporation well. But we are ready for this and we’re ready to answer all allegations,” Morales added. 

On June 16, Morales proposed to the joint congressional oversight committee meeting on the Universal Health Care Act to delay the law’s implementation due to lack of sufficient funds.

Lawmakers opposed the proposal, saying that the coronavirus pandemic was the best time to strengthen the implementation of the universal health care law. (READ: Lawmakers oppose proposal to delay universal health care law implementation)

Roque, who was among the principal authors of the universal health care law during his time as a lawmaker, himself slammed the call. (READ: Roque hits Morales for seeking delay in universal healthcare law implementation)

He said the government should be willing to channel billions from its coffers into universal healthcare.

“Based on the law, government funds must really be spent in order to provide free medicines and medical care,” Roque said. – Rappler.com

Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol is a multimedia reporter for Rappler, covering health, education, and social welfare. He first joined Rappler as a social media producer in 2016.