MANILA – A dialysis center that received millions of COVID-19 funding may be the Philippine Health Insurance Corp's (PhilHealth) new "conduit" of corruption after another clinic which facilitated ghost claims was busted last year, Sen. Panfilo Lacson said Wednesday.
The B. Braun Avitum dialysis center received about P45 million from PhilHealth's COVID-19 war chest, while several hospitals which have been filled with coronavirus patients have yet to be reimbursed, Lacson said in a phone interview.
"'Yung situation ng WellMed noon, ang pumalit naman sa kaniya ngayon ay 'yung B. Braun Avitum," Lacson said, referring to the WellMed dialysis center that allegedly claimed reimbursements for the treatments of dead patients.
(The situation of WellMed before, what replaced that is B. Braun Avitum.)
"Parang vicious cycle na lang ang nangyayari," he said.
A Senate investigation found that aside from the P45 million from the national office, PhilHealth officials from the Cagayan region deposited some P9.7 million into B. Braun's account in a rural bank in Central Luzon.
"There is prima facie evidence that B. Braun is a conduit," Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said in an online press conference following Tuesday's day-long hearing on alleged systemic corruption at the state insurance firm.
"Why is there a bank account where these funds went in Bataan?" he said, noting that officials from one region cannot disburse funds to institutions beyond their regional jurisdiction.
PhilHealth Region II Accreditation and Quality Assurance Section Head Editha Conel and Social Insurance Officer Jerome Fullente, who authorized the release of PhilHealth funds to B. Braun's accounts in the Balanga Rural Bank, will be summoned to the Senate hearing next week, Lacson said.
"Masyadong garapal 'yung anomalya. Tayo ba magkakamali na mayroon tayong designated na bank na receptacle natin tapos mapupunta sa ibang bangko?" he said.
(The anomaly is too glaring. Do you think we will be making the same mistake of having a designated bank as a receptacle then the money will go to another bank?)
"Mayroong nag-intervene diyan… Gusto natin talaga ma-establish sino 'yung tunay na mafia," he said.
(There was intervention there… We really want to establish who is the real mafia.)
B. Braun Avitum has yet to respond to the allegations. ABS-CBN was still trying to reach them for comment as of posting.
The Senate will resume its investigation into the alleged irregularities in the state-run insurance firm on August 18.