Sen. Richard J. Gordon, chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, expressed dismay over the slow progress of corruption cases in the Philippines amid alleged irregularities at Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).
In a related development, Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson, vice chairman of the Senate constituted as Committee of the Whole, assured that there is enough evidence to file appropriate charges against erring PhilHealth officials and personnel.
The pieces of evidence, according to Lacson, were mined during three in-person and virtual public hearings the committee conducted on alleged widespread corruption at PhilHealth which ended Tuesday.
As the Senate committee concluded its investigation on PhilHealth and begins to write its report, Gordon said all of PhilHealth regional directors must be replaced.
He also suggested that an insurance fraud detection system should be created to avoid corruption inside the State-run firm.
‘’We have to drain the swamp. Kailangang tanggalin ang mga regional directors. The historical record of PhilHealth has been notoriously undesirable,’’ he explained. (There is a pressing need to take out the regional directors)
“Sigaw lang tayo nang sigaw sa Kongreso pero walang nangyayari. People don’t go to jail,’’ he added. (We in Congress keep on shouting against unbridled corruption but people don’t go to jail)
Lacson cited pieces of evidence and testimonies on the controversial Interim Reimbursement Mechanism (IRM) that allowed PhilHealth to give hundreds of millions of pesos in cash advances even to dialysis centers and maternity clinics.
The PhilHealth IRM funds were supposed to be given to health care institutions that took care of patients hit by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic being a fortuitous event.
This, according to Lacson, is a clear case of malversation of pubic funds.
The Senate probe also discovered instances of clear manipulation of financial statement of PhilHealth and overpricing of the agency’s Information Technology (IT) project.
During its public hearing, Senate President Vicente Sotto III, committee chairman, said that the Malacanang-created Task Force headed by Department of Justice (DoJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra would have a field day when it receives the Senate committee report and recommendations that would contain pieces of evidence and testimonies on abuse of authority and corruption at PhilHealth.