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Senator threatens PhilHealth probe

Senator Panfilo Lacson said Wednesday he would initiate a Senate probe on the anomalies hounding the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. which has incurred  P250 billion over time.

“When the 18th Congres opens, most probably I will,” Lacson told reporters during the regular Kapihan sa Senado”—replying to questions if he would have a probe on the PhilHealth controversies.

Based on information he has been getting, Lacson stressed the controversies in Philhealth would not stop due to the involvement of the agency’s organic personnel.

“For the longest time,  they have been squandering funds from our people. UHC [Universal Health Care] will be implemented, the total requirement for this year is P257 billion and then when we hear P250 billion is being wasted over time,” said Lacson. 

The senator also said they have information there were several modes to illegally exact payments from PhilHealth. He said one of them involved the repeated ailment of PhilHealth members. 

Reacting to a series of articles that PhilHealth is plagued by fraud and corruption, PhilHealth, in a statement, denounced in strongest terms the seemingly orchestrated efforts of people within and outside the Corporation to destroy the name of PhilHealth and undermine its efforts in fraud identification and control.

In its statement, PhilHealth said “There have been and there may be fraudulent activities at present that have been detected by the Corporation. But to say that PhilHealth has not been taking action is an utter lie. 

“The Corporation has filed at least 13 criminal complaints against providers now pending in the Coutts, approximately 200 cases against erring employers, 27 cases of unethical behavior of its provider doctors before the Professional Regulation Commission. 

“Charges before PhilHealth’s Arbitration office against 81 facilities and 26 doctors and more than 271 facilities and 206 doctors are facing preliminary investigation.

Lacson said there was also a modus on the hospital itself extending the confinement of a PhilHealth member despite being discharged.

He specifically cited the case of a Cebu-based hospital which was suspended for three months due to the unauthorized extension of confinement of patients.

However, Lacson said  PhilHealth rescinded its ruling even though the Court of Appeals upheld its decision.

“We don’t need to be  lawyers to know the  hierarchy of courts because a lower court cannot reverse a CA decision, which in this case they themselves initiated...” Lacson said.

“When it was returned to them. they reversed it for humanitarian reason,” he added.

Lacson said the case was recent since the decision of the CA only came out January this year.

He said the information currently in his possession was “barely scratching the surface” as other information were still coming in. 

He said there were bits and pieces of information coming out that would really tell them, aside from those being published in the papers.

“I think we’re barely scratching the surface because it is our obligation as public officials, as elected senators, to get to the bottom of any corrupt act,” Lacson added. 

He also attributed conflict of interest to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III as his family owns the building being rented out to PhilHealth’s regional office of the PhilHealth in Pangasinan.

Lacson said he had a copy of the contract of lease of the building in Tapuac district in Dagupan City. He said the signatory to the lease contract was Duque’s sister.

“If this is not conflict of interest, I don’t know what is,” Lacson, whose wife is from Bolinao town in Pangasinan, said. 

Meanwhile, The Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission must work double time in filing criminal cases against Kapa Community Ministry International Inc. founder Joel Apolinario and his cohorts to ensure that they will not be able to flee the country, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said Wednesday.

Gatchalian said the move would also guarantee swift justice to millions of Filipinos who have been duped by the group.

While the DOJ had issued an Immigration Lookout Bulletin Order against eight incorporators and eight officers of Kapa, he noted that a court-issued hold departure order was still a more powerful tool in barring Kapa officials from leaving the country with their multibillion-peso loot. 

“We learned from our research na that scammers have been operating with impunity because only a few of them were punished under the Securities Regulation Code, which is now 18 years old.

Gatchalian also asked how many big time investment scammers in the past left the country even before they were charged.

He cited the case of Manuel Amalilio of Aman Futures Group Philippines that got  P12 billion from different investors in Mindanao.

“We do not want more of our countrymen to be victimized by these scams hence the urgent need to fast track the filing of criminal charges against these big-time scammers,” the senator said.

“We need to send a message that we mean business in prosecuting the masterminds of these nefarious schemes and giving justice to the victims,” he added.

READ: Duque, other execs face retroactive inquiry into PhilHealth payouts

READ: Senator chimes in on PhilHealth

READ: PhilHealth stops WellMed claims

Topics: Panfilo Lacson , Philippine Health Insurance Corp. , Universal Health Care , Professional Regulation Commission
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