MANILA

Former employee says PhilHealth ‘mafia’ stole P15B

FORMER Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) employee Thorrsson Montes Keith told the Senate on Tuesday, August 4, 2020, that a “mafia” had stolen around P15 billion from the state-owned company.

“Naging kultura na po nito ay ang pagtatalaga ng mga sindikato o ‘mafia’ ng kanilang kasamahan, kasabwat, o kapwa sindikato sa mga matataas na posisyon na nakakatulong sa kanilang iligal na operasyon,” Keith told the Senate committee of the whole, which launched its investigation into alleged PhilHealth corruption Tuesday .

According to Keith, PhilHealth president and CEO Ricardo Morales once asked him to talk to Presidential Anti-Corruption Commissioner (PACC) Greco Belgica in a bid to settle the case on overpriced Covid-19 testing kits.

“May pagkakataon na inutusan ako ni Morales na puntahan ko si PACC Commissioner Greco Belgica para hilutin ang kaso ng overpriced Covid-19 testing kits. Inayawan ko po ito,” he said.

PhilHealth board member Alejandro Cabading also testified against Morales, saying he supported a proposed supplemental budget for the purchase of overpriced ICT (information and communications technology) items in April.

Cabading showed a list of the overpriced items compared to the amounts approved under the information system plan of the Department of Information and Communications Technology, as follows:

  • Adobe Master Collection software - P21 million compared to approved cost of P168,000;
  • Application servers and licenses - P40 million compared to approved cost of P25 million;
  • Structured cabling - P5 million compared to approved cost of P500,000;
  • Identity Management software - P42 million compared to approved cost of P20 million;
  • Office Productivity Software - P21 million compared to approved cost of P5 million; and
  • Application servers and virtualization licenses - P25 million compared to approved cost of P14.8 million.


Cabading said there were also P734 million worth of items in the proposed budget that were not in the approved plan of the DICT.

He alleged that there was also an attempt to confuse by “splitting one item into two” and listing different descriptions.

"I tried to find a solution by raising this with management, but the most frustrating part is it seems that management seems to be tolerating this act," Cabading said.

In July, the Commission on Audit (COA) reported that the budget for five ICT items, which included computers, scanners and other items, was overpriced by P98 million.

Morales, defending the state-run company, said all healthcare systems in the world are not entirely fraud-free.

“Kahit linggo-linggo tayong magpalit ng presidente, hindi ho mawawala ang problemang ito. There is no healthcare system in the world that is entirely fraud-free,” Morales said.

He added that the “negative publicity” on PhilHealth is not helping the agency do its job.

“We are here again at the 'annual bash PhilHealth frenzy'. Tulungan ho natin ang PhilHealth. Kung maaari ho, wag pagtulungan,” Morales said. (Jove Moya/SunStar Philippines)

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