"I hope the probes would not be in vain."
Just days ago, President Duterte blamed corruption for hindering the speedy processing of telecommunication companies’ (telcos) applications for installation permits of cell sites that will help improve telcos’ poor services.
The telcos’ abominable performance, particularly Globe Telecom’s weak signal, is the President’s pet peeve.
Apparently, it is easier for Manong Digong to detect the corruption in the bureaucracy than Globe’s almost undetectable signal in Malacańang when calling home in Matina, Davao City.
So, it is impossible now for the President not to catch whiff of corruption in the Philippine Health Insurance Corp.
I sure hope all these congressional inquiries into the PhilHealth’s rampant irregularities would not be n vain.
The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee investigation has exposed the massive corruption involving top officials who have allegedly fleeced the government-owned and government-controlled corporation of over a hundred billion pesos.
During the Senate grilling, PhilHealth President and CEO Ricardo Morales admitted he had not done enough to rid the agency of corruption, and that “some irregularities” are still present in the agency.
The Commission on Audit has unearthed alleged multibillion-peso irregularities under his watch. Morales is a retired Philippine Army general appointed by the President to PhilHealth’s helm in June 2019.
When the senators questioned Morales for promoting, instead of sacking, four agency officials linked to the WellMed “ghost” dialysis scam, the PhilHealth chief flatly denied even knowing such cases.
“I’m not aware that they were facing cases. It’s the first we ever heard of that,” Morales said.
As Senate President Tito Sotto said in response, this official should have exercised due diligence in promoting his people.
Who does he think he was fooling except for himself when it was all over the news when graft cases were filed against those officials, namely: Cheryl Peña, Dr. Rizza Majella Herrera, Dr. Bernadette Lico, and lawyer Recto Panti.
Instead of being fired, the four were rewarded by Morales with promotion to Department Manager III last May.
Lawyer Thorrsson Montes Keith has had enough of Morales’ lies and dropped the bomb on the PhilHealth big boss, painting him as a “coddler” or “new leader” of a mafia in the state-run corporation.
Keith, PhilHealth’s former anti-fraud officer, accused Morales of allowing the irregular disbursement of P30 billion as part of the Interim Reimbursement Mechanism funds, a cash aid program, to healthcare institutions reeling from the COVID-19 crisis.
The senators also cast doubt on the release of P226 million to maternity care providers.
Senator Ping Lacson said the IRM is meant for hospitals and healthcare providers “hit by a fortuitous event with clear and apparent intent to continuously operate and or rebuild the HCI to provide continuous care services to adversely affected Filipinos.”
Backed by Lacson, Keith disclosed that Morales appointed members of the PhilHealth syndicate “who perpetrated the WellMed ghost patient dialysis despite our warnings.”
Keith resigned along with Morales’ Head Executive Assistant, Etrobal Laborte.
So, it is not true, after all, that Morales did not know about the ghost dialysis cases.
WellMed Dialysis Center cornered millions of pesos in fraudulent claims of dialysis patients, a number of whom were already dead, with the connivance of the PhilHealth mafia.
Whistleblowers disclosed that PhilHealth could have lost up to P154 billion in various rackets perpetrated by the mafia.
Senator Francis Tolentino also called for the resignation of PhilHealth’s senior vice president and board members in a bid to cleanse the agency.
In his response, Morales said the agency could not function if all officials resigned, adding that it would be “too disruptive to the corporation.”
One would wonder now if Armed Forces active and retired generals feel that Morales is making them proud with all the mess at PhilHealth.
Oh well, we all know that the mafia will not thrive if it didn’t have a powerful, well-connected and untouchable Godfather.