Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque hopes that the new evidence laid against the alleged corruption schemes of Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) will bring about a systemic change in the agency.
In The Filipino Times’ live streaming on Facebook titled ‘TFT Usapang OFW: Tulong at Serbisyo para sa bawat OFW mula kay Pangulong Duterte’, the spokesperson said that there really is a syndicate operating within the agency and conducting massive fraudulent schemes.
He cited that when he authored the Universal Healthcare Act—which aims to enable all Filipino citizens to get access to more affordable health care—he also aimed for it to eradicate PhilHealth and replace it with National Health Service, given the agency’s history of corruption.
“Noong sinulong natin yung Universal Healthcare, at alam natin na ang magpapatupad niyan ay PhilHealth, tayo din ay nag-imbestiga sa mga anomalya sa PhilHealth. Naging resulta ay ang aking panukalang batas na binubuwag ang PhilHealth para matanggal lahat ng dugo,” he said.
However, he was surprised to find out that while the bill was approved, it also made PhilHealth stronger. “Bagamat naaprubahan ang aking bill, pagdating sa depensa ng bill, nabago ito, imbes nabuwag ang Philhealth ay pinalakas pa ‘to. Don ako nakasigurado na matindi ang sindikato dyan,” said the spokesperson.
When reports got out that PhilHealth pays for ghost kidney treatments in June 2019, Roque said the government’s response was to ask the resignation of former president Roy Ferrer, along with other PhilHealth board members, and appointed retired Army brigadier general Ricardo Morales as the new chief.
“Ngayon may problema na naman. Ang talagang pinapakita nito, ang problema ay hindi lang sa mga matataas [na opisyal] kundi sa ang mga matataas na career na sangayon kay Senator [Ping] Lacson ay ang sindikato. Sila ‘yong Senior Vice President, Regional Vice President, etc. Kahit sinong adminastraton, tuloy tuloy na ang kanilang pagnanakaw sa salapi ng PhilHealth,” he said.
Recently, former anti-fraud officer Thorrsson Montes Keith said top executives of the agency have stolen around PHP15 billion through fraudulent means—noting that “mafia members” are responsible for the anomalous transactions.
Testifying before the Senate Committee on the Whole, he claimed that the amount stolen from the agency has reached such a big amount due to the culture cultivated by these higher officials.
Roque said that new evidence against PhilHealth, he hopes, will bring about an overall change.
“Tingin ko dahil matindi na ang mga ebidensya na nakalap natin, magkakaroon na ng systemic change, hindi lang change in the faces, pero importante na matanggal na ang mga members ng sindikato na pinangalan naman sa Senado,” he said.