Senator Christopher “Bong” Go on Tuesday, August 4, quizzed officials of state insurance company Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) on alleged corruption within the agency following its alleged failure to release insurance claims to its accredited hospitals and alleged overpriced expenditures, among other issues.
During a hearing of the Senate convened as the Committee of the Whole, Go questioned PhilHealth officials for their failure to resolve the alleged issues within the agency. He also demanded the removal of corrupt officials from the government-owned corporation.
“Paano ninyo magagamot mga pasyente kung sarili ninyong ahensya ‘di n’yo magamot? Kailangan talaga ‘yang mga korap tanggalin na talaga,” he said.
Go then asked the Ombudsman to look more deeply into the matter. “I urge the Ombudsman to investigate para malaman natin kung sino ang mga dapat managot. Please get to the bottom of this mess. Kailangan nating malaman kung sino ang mga nasa likod ng kalokohan na ito, kung mayroon mang mga mafia, kung sino pa ang mga taong ito,” Go said.
The Senator stressed that it is unacceptable that public funds intended to save lives are wasted due to corruption at a time when the country is facing a pandemic and PhilHealth, being the implementer of the Universal Health Care Law, claims that their funds are almost depleted already.
“Handa ang gobyerno na tulungan ang PhilHealth kung kailangan ng pondo pero dapat managot ‘yung mga taong sangkot sa pagnanakaw ng pondo. Enough is enough,” Go said.
“Kulang na nga pondo, nanakawin o sasayangin pa. Asan ang malasakit ninyo sa kapwa ninyong Pilipino?,” he added.
The Senator also vowed that individuals who will be proven guilty of corruption will be held responsible. “Sisiguraduhin po natin na mananagot ang dapat managot. Kasuhan ang dapat kasuhan. Ikulong ang dapat ikulong.”
Bong Go asks Ombudsman to investigate PhilHealth anomalies; tells officials: “How can you help cure patients when you can’t cure problems in your own agency?”
Go said that aside from the Senate probe, other investigative and fact-finding bodies are also looking into these issues in an effort to hold those responsible accountable. He added that the Office of the President and the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission are already conducting parallel investigations on allegation of corruption in PhilHealth.
“Noong nakaraang taon lang nagkaroon na ng hearing ang Blue Ribbon Committee para busisiin ang mga alegasyon ng korapsyon sa ahensya. I challenged General Morales to weed out corruption in the agency. Pero mukhang marami pa ring nakakalusot at diumano’y nadadawit sa katiwalian,” he said.
The Senator, then, reiterated to PhilHealth officials to assure the proper use of taxpayers’ money. “Hindi dapat nasasayang ang pera ng taong bayan lalo na ‘yung para sa pagpapagamot ng maysakit. Not even a single peso should be lost to corruption. In this time of crisis, every peso counts.”
“Sabi nga ninyo sa hearing ng Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on Universal Health Care, your premium collections dropped in the first half of 2020. The government is already doing its best to determine sources of funding to keep PhilHealth afloat,” said Go.
Go, then, asked PhilHealth president Ricardo Morales and board member Alejandro Cabading about the reforms that have already been made to fight corruption inside the agency.
Morales responded, saying that the development of PhilHealth’s IT system program will reduce fraud in the agency. Meanwhile, Cabading named top PhilHealth executives who are allegedly responsible for the anomalous practices and said that their dismissal will resolve corruption within PhilHealth.
“Nabanggit po ng ating mahal na Pangulo, gusto niya malaman kung totoo, encouraged lahat na magsalita, sabihin ang totoo, kasuhan ang dapat kasuhan. ‘Di malayong meron na namang another set na masisibak. Mas interesado po siya sa baba,” Go said.
“Sino talaga ang may kasalanan? Bakit walang katapusan ang sinasabi nilang mafia ng corruption dito? Kawawa po ang Pilipino, tulungan natin ang kapwa Pilipino natin, lalo na sa panahon ng pandemic,” he added.
Go said that he will continue to fight for additional funds needed to the implementation of the Universal Health Care Law as long as PhilHealth can cleanse it ranks and rid the agency of corruption.
“Sisiguraduhin natin na matuloy ang implementasyon ng Universal Health Care. And for it to be attainable, we need to secure the necessary funding that will keep the program in good running shape,” Go said.
“Kaya hindi talaga katanggap-tanggap na mayroong mga alegasyon na may mga nagbubulsa ng pera sa PhilHealth para sa pansariling interes,” he ended.