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Graft raps filed vs. former, current PhilHealth execs over 'fake' premium receipts

A former PhilHealth employee and lawyer Harry Roque on Wednesday filed a graft complaint against PhilHealth officials over their alleged failure to act on a scam involving issuance of fake Philhealth premium receipts to OFWs.

The scam, according to complainants Ken Sarmiento and Roque, resulted in at least P16 million losses for Philhealth from 2014 to 2018.

Roque and Sarmiento filed the complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman. Aside from graft, the respondents were also accused of dereliction of duty and grave abuse of discretion.

Named respondents in the complaint were former and present officials Dennis Mas (former Regional Vice President for PhilHealth NCR), Ruben Basa (former Chief Operating Officer of PhilHealth), Narisa Sugay (then-PhilHealth Vice President for Member Management Group) and Gilda Diaz (Vice President, PhilHealth Office of the Actuary).

Roque and Sarmiento said they have gathered over 1,000 "fake" PhilHealth premium receipts issued by liaison officers of manning agencies to unsuspecting OFWs, making each OFW believe that he or she already paid the annual P2,400 premium when this payment went to the hands of the liaisons and other supposed agents of manning agencies from 2014 to 2018.

During this period, Sarmiento was deployed at PhilHealth operations office in the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) building.

The fake PhilHealth receipts were being submitted by OFWs to PhilHealth's operations office in the POEA.

"Ginawan niya ng report ito, ipinaalam niya sa kanila [na mga PhilHealth officials], pero wala silang ginawa," Roque said.

"Hindi po puwede ipagwalang bahala ang ganito kalaking corruption. Nangyayari po mismo sa harap namin," said Sarmiento, who was deemed resigned from his post as PhilHealth personnel deployed in POEA in December 2018 due to his superiors' supposed inaction.

Roque said Sarmiento was able to gather at least 16 affidavits submitted to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) concerning the issuance of fake PhilHealth premium receipts and placed all other evidence in a case folder, but his superiors allegedly did not take notice.

“Naghanap nga po kami ng mga OFW na gusto magkaso, kaso ayaw po nila kasi natatakot po silang hindi makapagtrabaho at baka ma-blacklist sila ng [manning] agency. Kaya sabi ko po sa hepe po ang approach eh falsification of public documents, wala pong nakinig,” Sarmiento said.

“Kailangan magbayad ng PhilHealth ang OFW bago umalis, pero bakit nakakalusot [na peke ang resibo nila]? Kasi well organized scheme ito at pinagpepyestahan ang pondo ng PhilHealth,” Roque, for his part, said. —KBK, GMA News