Press Release
August 19, 2020

Senate urges President Duterte to suspend top PhilHealth officials

The Senate today adopted a resolution urging the President to immediately suspend several officials of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) for their involvement in the alleged corruption and fraudulent schemes in the agency and for the delay or refusal to submit pertinent documents to the National Bureau of Investigation and the Commission on Audit.

Senate Resolution No. 502, introduced by Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, was unanimously adopted Wednesday, August 19, 2020 with all senators signifying to be made co-authors of the resolution.

According to the resolution, allowing the officials to remain in the office would give them time to tamper with, conceal or destroy important records needed in the investigations of the NBI, COA, the Ombudsman, the Senate and the House of Representatives in their exercise of oversight powers and inquiries in aid of legislation and other investigative bodies.

It further said that during the Committee of the Whole hearing last August 18, 2020, it became apparent that the top management of PhilHealth refused to cooperate and submit pertinent documents requested by NBI and the COA.

"Director Cleotilde Tuazon revealed that a similar problem exists between COA and PhilHealth, with the latter refusing to submit documents in time for auditing, and also preventing COA from gaining full access to their records system, including non-submission of contracts, supporting documents and bidding documents," the resolution said.

PhilHealth's unwillingness to cooperate with regard to the submission of records, the resolution pointed out, would be tantamount to obstruction of justice, preventing the NBI to carry out its responsibilities as an investigative agency. The resolution also said that PhilHealth's refusal to grant COA full access to its record system is a blatant violation of the Government Auditing Code of the Philippines.

Throughout the course of the investigation conducted by the Senate Committee of the Whole on the alleged irregularities at the PhilHealth, the resolution said that a number of whistleblowers had approached the Committee to reveal various instances of corruption schemes, such as ghost and non-existent patients, rebates, overpayments, upcasing of illnesses, overpricing of information technology items for procurement and the questionable program of Interim Reimbursement Mechanism (IRM).

"PhilHealth Board Member Alejandro Cabading and former anti-fraud officer Thorrsson Montes Keith claimed that a so-called mafia in PhilHealth has been orchestrating large-scale corruption within the corporation for years," the resolution said.

The resolution said that a multi-agency task force created by President Duterte to investigate the alleged corruption in PhilHealth would likewise recommend the immediate preventive suspension of the officers to preserve the integrity and ensure the transparency of the investigation.

"The Executive Branch, with its exercise of supervisory powers over the PhilHealth, must preventively suspend the officers of PhilHealth responsible for possible obstruction of justice and violations of the Government Auditing Code of the Philippines, to allow the NBI and COA to secure the pertinent records they need in order to perform their duties and properly investigate the alleged corruption within the insurance agency," the resolution added.

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