Senate eyeing to start probe on alleged PhilHealth corruption next week

Robie de Guzman   •   July 28, 2020   •   710

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate is looking to start next week its investigation into the alleged anomalies within the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Senator Panfilo Lacson earlier filed Senate Resolution No. 475 urging the upper chamber to convene as a Committee of the Whole to look into the alleged widespread corruption, incompetence, and inefficiency that may lead to the financial collapse of the state-run health insurance agency.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III said the chamber will constitute as a Committee of the Whole because the scope of the probe is “too wide.”

“Hindi lang tungkol sa health, hindi lang tungkol sa PhilHealth, hindi lang tungkol sa violations at investigations of public officials,” Sotto said in an online press conference.


Under Senate rules, all senators are given voting rights on issues during the legislative hearing once the chamber convenes as a Committee of the Whole.

Sotto said around four to five witnesses are expected to appear in the hearing to provide evidence on alleged irregularities in the agency.

The probe comes after PhilHealth officer, Atty. Thorrson Montes Keith resigned from his post due to supposed rampant corruption in the agency. He also cited the “unconstitutional” mandatory payment of Philhealth for overseas workers as among the reasons for his resignation.

Despite the allegations, Philhealth President and Chief Executive Officer General Ricardo Morales still continues to enjoy the trust and confidence of President Rodrigo Duterte according to Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

Lawmakers express concern over hospitals planning to withdraw from PhilHealth

Maris Federez   •   November 2, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Several lawmakers are expressing concern over a number of hospitals that are reportedly planning not to renew their accreditation from the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).

Lawmakers say that such a plan, if materialized, will affect a significant number of Filipinos.

In an interview, Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines Inc. (Phapi) President Dr. Jose Rene De Grano said that several hospitals in Iloilo, General Santos City, Cagayan Valley, and Metro Manila already have plans not to renew their accreditation from PhilHealth due to the state insurer’s failure to pay reimbursement claims that have now reached Php20 million.

Senator Imee Marcos said the Universal Health Care Act, as well as PhilHealth, will be rendered useless if these hospitals push through with their plan.

Marcos estimated that around 95 million direct and indirect PhilHealth contributors will be affected by such a move and will lose their benefits.

Marcos urged PhilHealth to settle its obligations that are now in billions of pesos and just file cases against hospitals who are proven to have made or are making anomalous claims from them.

Senator Sonny Angara, meanwhile, stated that the hospitals’ said plan will result in the collapse of the country’s health care system.

This might also lead to the closure of hospitals which will affect the public.

Angara also mentioned that the government released around Php70 million as an additional subsidy to PhilHealth in 2020.

He suggested that the Anti-Red Tape Authority look into PhilHealth’s process on payment of claims and determine the cause of the delay of the release of such payments. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondents Harlene Delgado)

Duterte won’t withdraw memo barring gov’t officials from Pharmally hearings

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 7, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday night (October 6) defended his memorandum order barring government officials from attending the Senate investigation on the government’s management of pandemic funds.

During his regular public address, Duterte slammed senators who were calling for the withdrawal of the memo directing government officials and employees to no longer attend the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearings.

“Kayo ang nag-umpisa nito eh. Kayo ang nag-umpisa nitong lahat (You’re the ones who started this. You started all of this), he said referring to the panel.

READ: DOJ chief defends Duterte memo barring Cabinet execs from attending Senate panel probe

The committee is currently conducting investigation on alleged irregularities in the government’s procurement of COVID-19 pandemic supplies last year.

“I have to protect the Executive department from the incessant and steady dose of insults coming from the senators,” Duterte said. “There ain’t no way that I will withdraw it. You can do your worst and I will do mine,” he added.

The Chief Executive said government employees, including Cabinet members, should be focused on addressing the  pandemic instead of participating in Senate hearings. The President also slammed Senator Francis ‘Kiko’ Pangilinan for threatening government employees.

“I’m told that it was Pangilinan who said that ‘the worst is yet to come’ to mga empleyado (the employees). Who are you to threaten or even to intimidate government workers?” Duterte said. AAC

Duterte on Senate probe into Pharmally: ‘More than martial law’

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 28, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday called the Senate order to detain Pharmally Pharmaceuticals Corporation director Linconn Ong as “more than martial law”.

In his weekly talk to the nation aired Monday night (September 27), Duterte criticized the Senate’s “intimidation” tactics in its investigation on government transactions with Pharmally.

Akala ko ba ayaw ng mga taong Pilipinas ng martial law? Tingnan mo ang ginagawa ng Senado ngayon, (I thought the Philippines does not like martial law? Look at what the Senate is doing now), it is just more than a martial law,” he said.

The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chaired by Senator Richard Gordon has ordered Ong’s detention after citing the latter for contempt for allegedly evading questions regarding Pharmally’s P8 billion worth of transactions with the government. Ong was supposed to be transferred to the Pasay City Jail.

Duterte said the Senate panel is not really looking for answers but expecting specific replies from summoned resource persons.

Kung ayaw ninyo ang sagot, magagalit kayo tapos you threaten (If you don’t like the answer you will get mad and threaten) you will—’We will cite you in contempt and we can detain you forever.’ Is that how a civilized Congress works? Takutan ba ito (Is this intimidation),” he said.

“Do not blame him because that is his truth. You just cannot assume altogether that he is lying. That would be a cockeyed view of what a hearing should be,” he added.

Duterte also wondered what the human rights advocates have to say regarding the issue.

“So ang Human Rights, gusto kong marinig kung ano rin ang sinasabi (I also want to know what they have to say). The Constitution really provides that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law. Is there a due process of law if you already have the preconceived answer? And if it does not dovetail your frame of mind, you send him to jail?” he asked.

The president addressed Senator Richard Gordon anew during his speech, telling him to “try to be a lawyer and not a despot.”

“You are not the king of Congress. Please do it for the sake of you, your family, and for the country,” he said. AAC

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