Okay, let’s tally it up. In 2020 alone, we had a pandemic, aliens and ostriches running about in broad daylight. When news about the alleged “PhilHealth mafia” came out, truth be told, we didn’t bat an eye.
Here’s the recap so far: The freshly resigned anti-fraud legal officer Thorrsson Montes Keith of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) called out anomalies within the agency, which allegedly resulted in a P15 billion loss in funds.
Keith recounted this in today’s Senate committee, which is currently conducting investigations on said allegations. The former anti-fraud officer dubbed it “the crime of the year,” referring to the “syndicate-like” ways, as well as the “overpriced” IT equipment.
“Naniniwala po ako, base sa aking imbestigasyon, ang perang nawaldas at o ninakaw ay humigit kumulang P15 billion,” he said. Keith also talked about the alleged culture of corruption and the system he compared to a mafia syndicate.
“Naniniwala po ako na ang dahilan kung bakit hindi natatapos ang korapsyon sa PhilHealth, at naging kultura na po ito, ay ang pagtatalaga o ang paglalagay ng mga sindikato o mafia ng kanilang kasamahan, kasabwat or kapwa sindikato sa matataas na posisyon na nakakatulong sa kanilang iligal na operasyon.” He also speculated that the “PhilHealth” mafia plans to use overseas Filipino workers’ contributions to replace money that they had “stolen or corrupted.”
The former anti-fraud officer dubbed it “the crime of the year,” referring to the “syndicate-like” ways, as well as the “overpriced” IT equipment.
The probe was initiated by Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Sen. Panfilo Lacson after corruption allegations became widespread, starting with heated exchanges over PhilHealth’s “overpriced” IT system, then escalating into several officials handing in their resignation letters.
The allegations aren’t quite surprising to most, given PhilHealth’s history with these cases. Previously, PhilHealth was involved in a case involving the issuance of fake receipts to OFWs. Last year, they were also hit by a supposed “ghost” dialysis that reported fraudulent schemes, by using dead patients’ names to file kidney treatment claims. According to whistleblowers, PhilHealth continued to make payments to these health providers.
Aside from that, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon also questioned PhilHealth’s “overpriced” COVID-19 testing package, which they later reduced. Several hospitals spoke about the insurance agency owing them billions of pesos, which PhilHealth said were due to lack of requirements.
While PhilHealth president and CEO Ricardo Morales denied Keith’s allegations of the corruption, he did say that the overall problem at the agency was “deep-seated and long term.” So, really, give us ostriches instead for some actual surprise, please.
Art by Eliel Jeuz Sayo