Enough is enough | Investigator’s opinion

The revelations from the Senate hearing into the PhilHealth mess have been so sleazy that senators have had enough of, at least they say, the mud assaulting their senses and announced the end of the hearings.

“Enough is enough… We are done with the carousel of denials and lies,” Senate President Vicente Sotto III said on August 19, announcing that they would proceed with the preparation of their report and their reports. recommendations. The report, he added, would be forwarded to the Department of Justice (DOJ), and that PhilHealth president Ricardo Morales and other executives would simply have to appear before the DOJ or the ombudsman.

After PhilHealth’s anti-fraud legal adviser, Thorrsson Montes Keith, resigned from the agency, citing “widespread corruption”, and said that up to 15 billion pesos could have been stolen by a “mafia” composed from members of PhilHealth’s executive committee for 2019 alone, more appalling revelations have been released in the Senate and in a parallel House inquiry.

The extremely expensive 2.1 billion peso information technology project, for example, turned out to be little potatoes when compared to a much more complex corruption program: the Interim Payback Mechanism. (IRM), a 30 billion peso cash advance program intended to provide emergency funds to hospitals for calamities and natural disasters such as the pandemic which reports may have turned into a cow milk by corrupt officials.

PhilHealth’s senior vice president for the fund management industry, Renato Limsiaco Jr., admitted that of the 15 billion pesos released by the IRM since the March lockdown, only 2.3 billion pesos had been liquidated. Senator Panfilo Lacson also questioned the release of 231 million P from MRI to 48 dialysis centers and four maternity hospitals, when MRI was supposed to be intended for fortuitous events such as the pandemic. Lacson highlighted the suspected case of B Braun Avitum Philippines, which operates dialysis centers; he got 45 million pesos although there was not a single case of COVID-19, and some 9.7 million pesos paid to him by the PhilHealth Cagayan office are said to have ended up in a bank rural area in Balanga, Bataan.

In the House, Anakalusugan party list representative Mike Defensor asked why PhilHealth released 1.49 billion pesos to 51 hospitals for fraud-related offenses, such as padding claims, claims for patients who had not been admitted or treated, after dating. claims and many other cases of fraud. From 2013 to 2020, Defensor said, 4,664 such incidents were reported involving these hospitals.

Also in the House, Limsiaco admitted that PhilHealth used its corporate funds to pay 156 million pesos in withholding taxes that it did not deduct from payments made to private hospitals. “So this is another obvious case of embezzlement,” said Surigao del Norte representative Robert Ace Barbers, adding that PhilHealth members “were fried in their own fat.”

Marikina representative Stella Quimbo said the MRI system was “so rotten” that up to 2 billion P2 could be lost due to fraud, noting that PhilHealth has inflated its allowance for COVID-19 cases . “It’s like a blank check and a free loan to hospitals,” Quimbo said of the MRI.

Whistleblowers also provided the Senate with information about the overvalued articles of the 2.1 billion P2 IT project, which ironically aimed to prevent further corruption and fraud within the agency. Lacson threatened to scornfully quote PhilHealth officials Jovita Aragona and Calixto Gabuya Jr. for repeatedly dodging why PhilHealth was buying a certain model of computer network switches for P 348,000 each, when it didn’t cost than 62,000 P each.

If the Senate intends to stop hearing about such shenanigans and move quickly to writing its report, then this report, to be useful, should 1) shed a deep and ruthless light on how each peso of taxpayer money is embezzled by corrupt PhilHealth officials. and private health providers; 2) identify members of the PhilHealth mafia, and; 3) Leave no room for President Duterte to save privileged underlings who have become two of the country’s biggest liabilities in this era of pandemic – Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, whom Keith categorically identified as the “godfather From Mafia PhilHealth, and Morales, who emerged as a picture of blatant incompetence and ignorance.

Investigators should also go faster than the Mafia. A recent leak on the roof of a PhilHealth regional office in Pangasinan has raised suspicions about the intention to destroy documents proving the fraud. Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra revealed that the National Bureau of Investigation found tissue stuck in the office waste pipe. Last year, the Inquirer discovered PhilHealth phantom patients in Pangasinan and reported that the PhilHealth office was in a building owned by Duque’s family.

Coincidence? Enough is really enough.

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