MANILA – Philippine Health Insurance Corp (PhilHealth) president Ricardo Morales was earlier told of alleged anomalies in the agency but no action followed, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Friday, just as the agency faced a Malacañang-ordered investigation over questionable billion-peso procurement.
Roque, who as lawmaker pushed for the Universal Health Care law and earlier sounded the alarm on alleged PhilHealth corruption, said supposed irregularities at the agency were not new.
He even pointed out to two departments as most problematic within the agency: legal department and IT.
Roque said he and his then colleagues in the House of Representatives had two meetings with PhilHealth President Ricardo Morales when he was still new in the agency, where they detailed their previous findings in Congress about anomalies in the agency.
Morales, a former Army general, was appointed to lead the agency in 2019.
“Idinetalye ko po kung ano 'yung findings namin sa kamara kung ano babantayan. Number 1 is legal [services], number 2 'yung IT,” he said.
(I detailed our findings in Congress what he should monitoring. Number 1 is legal services, number 2 is IT.)
The investigation stemmed from deliberations on the health care law in the 17th Congress.
“Ang naging conclusion ko mismo bilang author ng resolution, ang problema ng PhilHealth nasa legal department kasi nga doon sa batas na bumuo ng PhilHealth, 'yung legal department ang siyang investigator, piskal, huwes at saka executioner,” Roque said.
(My conclusion then as author of the resolution, the problem at PhilHealth lies in the legal department because under the law that created PhilHealth, the legal department is the investigator, prosecutor, judge and executioner.)
He said PhilHealth was also given a grade of "zero" by the Governance Commission on GOCCs due to the zero output of its legal department.
“Kung ikaw talaga magtatakip ng anomalya d'yan, talagang yayariin mo talaga d'yan sa legal department. Kailangan talaga linisin ang legal department na ‘yan dahil sila talaga 'yung nagpo-promote ng accountability at pag ‘di gumagawa ang legal department, wala talaga, puro korapsiyon,” he said.
(If you want to address anomalies, you have to tackle the legal department. The legal department has to be cleaned up because that's the department that promotes accountability and if the legal department doesn't act, there will be a lot of corruption.)
Roque said they thought that Morales would listen to them. But the two departments he mentioned were not investigated.
“Saka nabalitaan ko na lang na yung kinasuhan ng NBI para sa WellMed, apat po 'yan, ay napromote pa,” he said.
(And I heard that those charged by the National Bureau of Investigation for the WellMed controversy, that's four officials, they were even promoted.)
He was referring to officials tagged in the ghost dialysis anomaly at PhilHealth that made headlines last year. At a Senate hearing, Morales defended the promotion of the officials, saying he was not aware they were already facing charges.
The Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission had also pointed to PhilHealth's legal and IT services as the departments involved in fraudulent practices at PhilHealth.
Resigned PhilHealth anti-fraud officer Thorrsson Montes Keith earlier alleged that some officials of the state insurer pocketed around P15 billion in funds through various schemes. He also claimed that several items for the agency's IT department were overpriced by the millions.
Both the House of Representatives and the Senate are investigating PhilHealth over alleged irregularities following a string of corruption claims against officials of the state insurer.
President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the creation of an inter-agency task force to investigate alleged PhilHealth anomalies.
Morales earlier told lawmakers he had shortcomings in addressing alleged corruption at PhilHealth.