Drilon urges Philhealth to source out its IT requirements

The Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) should find a reliable and competent information technology (IT) service company to perform computerization services for the agency, Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon said on Wednesday.

Senator Franklin Drilon (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)

Drilon made the suggestion as he expressed belief that one of the keys to reforming the flawed record system in PhilHealth is by contracting out its IT services than insisting on pushing through with an overpriced IT system project.

“The key is to contract out the IT services. To my mind, that will solve a lot of problems of corruption,” Drilon said in a virtual interview with Senate reporters.

“Having said that, I am willing to support in the budget whatever its cost in order to source out these services. PhilHealth is too valuable. The sourcing out to me is a critical issue and whatever it takes to fund it, I will support. I don’t think it will be that significant,” the Senate minority chief said.

During the Senate hearing, PhilHealth president and CEO Ricardo Morales defended the agency’s plan to pursue a P2.1-billion IT project to stem fraud and scams being devised by some of its corrupt personnel.

But the senators and the Commission on Audit (COA) itself said PhilHealth’s IT project is overpriced.

Drilon said he doubts that a change of leadership in the agency alone will help resolve the endemic corruption in PhilHealth, though officials who were involved in the anomalies may eventually have to answer before the Office of the Ombudsman.

“Year in and year out, investigations take place. You will never know how this might be a bottomless pit. However, we can assert that corruption is endemic and systemic, so I doubt whether a change of president or board members would be sufficient. Systems must be in place,” the senator stressed.

“That is why I am in favor of the computerization of the PhilHealth records given its shortcomings. But again, charges of overpricing of IT equipment is (sic) being raised, so to me, we should just source out the computerization,” he added.

“If we have a reliable and competent IT company, we just contract it out so that all PhilHealth will be doing is to get the desired results rather than buying the equipment themselves. This is not rocket science and it is being done. That is my strong suggestion,” Drilon emphasized.