Ex-PhilHealth official bares ‘questionable’ P9-M fund transfer

Published August 11, 2020, 3:32 PM

by Hannah Torregoza 

A former top official of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) told senators on Tuesday that the state health insurer credited some P10-million to a rural bank in Bataan last year.

Thorsson Montes Keith (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULELTIN)

Thorsson Montes Keith, a former anti-fraud officer in PhilHealth disclosed this during the resumption of the Senate’s hearing, saying he discovered that personnel of the agency’s Region II office had multiple transactions of payments of reimbursements of benefit claims for 12 consecutive periods for the month of May 2019, and which were credited to the Balanga Rural Bank in Bataan.

“This is not merely inadvertent as the multiple transaction connotes deliberate intent to defraud the government by embezzling P9,705,332,” Keith told Senate probers.

The ex-PhilHealth official claimed the bank’s officials initially refused to return the money to the agency but later on agreed after the state health insurer issued a demand letter.

Keith said he was wondering why the transfer was considered a mere error when it was clear that Region II (Cagayan Valley) has no authority and access to banks located in other regions, particularly Region III (Central Luzon).

Nevertheless, when PhilHealth officials from both Region II and the central office met with the bank’s executives, the agency agreed to pay P49,123 which the latter demanded as compensation for the inconvenience.

“Some people whom I asked information from PhilHealth believe that the Balanga Rural Bank case was just a decoy to cover up something bigger,” Keith pointed out.

Keith, who resigned from the agency following a heated argument during an online meeting with PhilHealth’s board members, said he later heard of rumors that a top official of the agency has a mistress in Balanga, Bataan.

He said such case only shows one of the modus operandi of the “untouchables” in PhilHealth.

“The only thing to do is to determine the real owner of the bank account in Balanga, Bataan and it will open a Pandora’s box,” he said.