Fact checks on public officials

FACT CHECK: No Marcos order to sue Hontiveros over 2014 PhilHealth anomalies

Rappler.com

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FACT CHECK: No Marcos order to sue Hontiveros over 2014 PhilHealth anomalies
There is no legal basis to sue Senator Risa Hontiveros over PhilHealth’s unauthorized bonuses. Auditors did not name the senator among those involved in the 2014 scandal.

Claim: President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. ordered the filing of a case against Senator Risa Hontiveros for her alleged involvement in the 2014 Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) unauthorized bonuses.

Rating: FALSE

Why we fact-checked this: A YouTube channel named “AI TOO KAYE” posted the video containing the claim on October 10. The video has 14,745 views, 731 likes, and 126 comments at the time of writing.

The thumbnail of the video says: “Risa kinasuhan na. Ito ang matinding utos ng Pangulo. Kakapasok lang na balita.” (Risa has been charged. This was the stern order of the President. Breaking news.)

The video was a reaction to an earlier video fact-checked by Rappler attributing the suspension of Philhealth’s scheduled rate hike to the agency’s past corruption issues and controversies.

The facts: Marcos did not order that charges be filed against Hontiveros over her alleged involvement in the PhilHealth anomaly. There is neither a case filed against the senator nor any basis for legal action as Hontiveros was not involved in the 2014 scandal. Rappler and other fact-checking organizations have repeatedly debunked this false claim.

The Marcos order mentioned in the video did not refer to Hontiveros, but the suspension of Philhealth’s scheduled increase in premium rates for 2023. The President issued the order last January.

Unauthorized bonuses: In 2018, the Commission on Audit (COA) ordered PhilHealth to return P164 million in unauthorized perks for personnel, affirming its earlier decision to disallow bonuses and allowances granted to employees in 2009, 2010, and 2014. 

However, there is no basis to sue Hontiveros for the said matter as COA did not name the senator in the notices of disallowances issued to Philhealth, as reported by Rappler and Vera Files

In a September 2022 decision, the Supreme Court upheld the COA ruling and ordered Philhealth officials to return P83 million in unauthorized benefits paid out in 2014. Similarly, Hontiveros was not named among those liable for granting disallowed benefits and allowances.

Hontiveros’ term of office as a board member of Philhealth proves her non-involvement in the issue. She became a member of the PhilHealth board from November 2014 to October 2015, by which time the illegal allowances had already been released. She could not have been responsible for the unauthorized bonuses. She took her oath of office in June 2015, and resigned the same year to prepare for the 2016 election.

Previously fact-checked: Rappler debunked the claim made in the original video uploaded in June, which was the basis of the more recent reaction video.

The original video falsely claimed that Marcos ordered the suspension of Philhealth’s scheduled increase in premium rates for 2023 because it was more important to hold the agency’s officials accountable for past anomalies. 

The rate hike suspension has nothing to do with the previous controversies of the agency. Nowhere in the released memorandum was Philhealth’s corruption issues mentioned.

Below are the other debunked claims linking Hontiveros to various PhilHealth controversies:

 – Ailla dela Cruz/Rappler.com

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