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Lacson: Senate probe underway on alleged PhilHealth corruption amid pandemic


A Senate investigation is in the pipeline as lawmakers intend to dig out the truth on allegations of corruption within the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Senator Panfilo Lacson said Friday.

"I am now drafting a resolution calling for a Senate Committee of the Whole inquiry," Lacson said in a message to reporters.

"Senate President Vicente Sotto III and I, and some senators, from the majority bloc have been discussing the unabated corruption and mismanagement of Philhealth funds for quite sometime now," he added.

Lacson said the inquiry on the alleged corruption issue hounding the state health insurer and the status of its fund life, will be among the upper chamber's "top agenda" after session resumes on Monday.

A copy of a PhilHealth official's resignation letter floated on Thursday night after a heated argument allegedly transpired among the agency's leaders at a Zoom meeting.

"The shouting match in a recent virtual conference between the PhilHealth president and some board members involving almost P1 billion worth of questionable transactions including a total overprice of P98 million says it all," Lacson said, citing an internal audit report of PhilHealth.

In a separate interview on Dobol B sa News TV, the senator stressed that corruption at a time of pandemic is "abominable and disgusting."

Expectations

Lacson shared he and his colleagues kept their hopes up that corruption would be addressed when PhilHealth president Ricardo Morales took the helm last year.

"Napakataas ng aming expectations at pag-asa na mababago. Pero sad to say, patuloy pa rin. Sabi nga ng kasamahan ko unabated na, parang naging kultura sa PhilHealth," he said.

"So, something must be really very wrong na kailangan tingnan uli ng Senado bilang mga policy makers kasi kami nagpatupad ng Universal Health Care. Kongreso nagpasa niyan at meron kaming oversight function, mandato namin 'yan," he added.

Morales, on the other hand, refuted the allegation of irregularities in PhilHealth.

"[Aabot sa] 50,000 transactions ang hina-handle ng PhilHealth araw-araw, palagay ko naman kung hindi corruption ‘yung mga inefficiencies diyan, mali ‘yung pasok [ng entries], kulang. Pero iyong sinasabi na korapsyon na may sindikato, may mafia, wala hong ebidensiya," he said.

Earlier in the day, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque bared that PhilHealth officials are under investigation over the agency's alleged overpriced purchase of IT system worth over P2 billion.

Three Philhealth officials reportedly have tendered their resignations. — RSJ, GMA News

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