PhilHealth denies senior officials stole P15 billion worth of funds

Bonz Magsambol

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PhilHealth claims resigned anti-fraud officer Thorrsson Montes Keith made the 'malicious' allegations 'to malign officers that rejected his ambitions for higher offices which he is not qualified for'

The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) on Thursday, August 6, denied allegations that its senior officials pocketed P15 billion worth of funds.

PhilHealth, in a statement, countered the claims against its officials made by resigned anti-fraud officer Thorrsson Montes Keith before a Senate inquiry on alleged corruption at the state health insurer.

“His malicious claims not substantiated by evidence were obviously made to malign officers that rejected his ambitions for higher offices which he is not qualified for,” PhilHealth said.

Philhealth said Keith was hired as a job order contractor to do staff work under PhilHealth chief Ricardo Morales and has “no position to discuss office matters being in the corporation for only 9 month.”

PhilHealth said that funds in question was the Interim Reimbursement Mechanism (IRM) which was released to a total of 711 healthcare facilities to “assure efficient response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“There has never been favoritism in the release of these funds as earlier alleged; rather the releases followed existing guidelines,” PhilHealth added. 

PhilHealth said IRM is “governed by government accounting and auditing rules, hence, it is subject to liquidation by its recipients.”

The state insurer said that its regional offices were given the flexibility in processing liquidations recognizing the situations in hospitals amid the pandemic. 

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In a Senate inquiry on Tuesday, witnesses from PhilHealth itself, including Keith, revealed alleged irregularities in billions of pesos worth of procurements, fund disbursements, and doctored financial statements.

Among the questionable items unearthed during the Senate probe were an unspecified number of laptops worth more than P119 million, 43 unspecified “ICT (information and communications technology) resources” worth P40 million, and 3 unnamed projects worth P98 million.

PhilHealth board member Alejandro Cabading said that the proposed 2020 budget of PhilHealth’s ICT sector was bloated by at least P734 million. (READ: PhilHealth’s proposed ICT budget bloated by P734 million, says official)

Keith also alleged that Morales ordered him to “massage” the issue on the supposed overpriced COVID-19 testing kits. (READ: Resigned officer says PhilHealth chief ordered him to ‘massage’ overpriced testing kits issue)

Senators leading the probe have said that Morales was either “blindsided” or complicit in the corruption mess. 

Amid the allegations, Senator Bong Go, the President’s right-hand man, said Morales still enjoyed the trust of the President. –

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Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler.