Senate probe on PhilHealth irregularities turning into ‘cat and mouse’ game — Lacson

Published August 12, 2020, 12:37 PM

by Mario Casayuran

The Senate probe into the alleged multi-billion-peso irregularities at the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) is turning into a cat and mouse game.


Senator Panfilo M. Lacson, vice chairman of the Senate Committee of the Whole, said top Philhealth officials on the dock at the Upper House have adopted a tactic to confuse or tire out senators by giving very long explanations to a simple question.

‘’Yan ang gusto nila, mapagod tayo, sumuko tayo. Kaya nga pinapagod kami sa sagot, pag mahaba pinuputol namin. Yan isang strategy nila, pagurin kami, abutin kami ng gabi, pag-adjourn, wala kaming makuha,’’ he said. (That is their tactic, to tire us out. That is why they want to tire us, that is why when they give very long explanations, we cut them off. That is their strategy, to tire us out, the hearing lasting in the evening that when we adjourn, we do not get anything.)

‘’Kaya ang mensahe: huwag tayo sumuko, huwag tayo magsawa, huwag tayo mapagod, no matter what,’’ he added. (The message is: we will not surrender. We will not get tired, no matter what.)

“Huwag tayo magsawa. Tuloy tuloy pag-expose natin, maski wala tayong nakikitang light at the end of the tunnel. Balang araw, it will catch up with them,’’ he said. (We will not give up. We will continue with our exposes. Although we do not see the light at the end of the tunnel, one day their misdeeds will catch up with them,)

When asked to comment that one to three years will not be enough to complete a probe on PhilHealth scandals, Lacson replied:

“Pagka ganoon ang salita, nagja-justify na kung bakit walang nangyayari. Yan lang pwedeng conclusion doon. Humahanap lang ng excuse bigyan nyo kami ng tatlong taon. Papayagan pa ba natin silang magnakaw ng tatlong taon pa?’’ he asked. (If that were the case, it would justify that nothing could be done in three years. That is the only conclusion. They are making an excuse by asking us to give them three years. Shall we allow them to continue stealing in the next three years?)

The Senate Committee of the Whole resumes its in-person and virtual public hearing on Tuesday.

President Duterte earlier created a Task Force headed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to undertake a thorough probe into alleged widespread corruption at PhilHealth. The Philippine Anti-Crime Commission (PACC) is one of the government agencies tasked to help the DoJ.

PACC Commissioner Greco Belgica estimated that some P154 billion have been missing from the PhilHealth coffers from 2013 to the present.

“Mantakin mo ang laking pera niyan. Hirap na hirap tayo maghanap ng pondo para magkaroon ng Bayanihan 2 (to address problems related to coronavirus disease – COVID-19). Ang proposal ng ilang senador kung ilang bilyon pero sabi ng DOF (Department of Finance) kaya lang natin P140 billion so yan ang maipapasa at maiba-bicam diyan,’’ (That is a lot of money. We have been trying to look for funds for Bayanihan 2. DOF told senators that the administration has only P140 billion which the Senate passed. The Senate panel will meet its House of Representatives counterparts for a bicameral conference meeting on the Bayanihan 2 bill).