‘Transparency please’: Some Filipinos unconvinced PhilHealth liquidated majority of P15-B ‘missing’ funds

January 27, 2021 - 8:35 PM
PhilHealth station
PhilHealth station addressing the financial needs of citizens in the public health system.

Calls for transparency were initiated online after the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation claimed that the alleged missing P15 billion worth of public funds were not lost.

In an online briefing on Tuesday, PhilHealth president and CEO Dante Gierran claimed that the controversial funds were not missing, citing that 92% of it had already been liquidated.

“Sa totoo lang po, hindi nawawala, and’yan lang, on record po. Sa ngayon po, 92 percent na ang liquidated. Kaunti na lang po. I will not allow iyong pera ng Pilipino mawala,” he said.

He added that the remaining eight percent that was not yet liquidated is around P120 million.

Gierran also assured the public that 13 PhilHealth personnel have already been suspended over the alleged anomalies within the agency.

This was the similar claim of PhilHealth spokesperson Rey Baleña in an interview with CNN Philippines last January 4.

Baleña said that 711 health care facilities across the country have already received these funds.

“‘Yung ₱15 billion na pinaniniwalaan ng ilan na nawawala, ito ay ibinulsa di umano. Gusto nating categorically na sabihin sa mga kababayan natin na ito po ay hindi nawawala. Ito po ay tinanggap ng 711 na mga health care facilities sa buong bansa bilang bahagi ng ating COVID response,” he said.

That time, only 87% of the funds were supposedly liquidated and less than P2 billion worth of liquidation reports were still pending.

“As of late, ay mayroon na pong 87%, o kabuuang ₱13.03 billion ang mga naliquidate na ng mga ospital… Hindi ito nawawala. Hindi ito ibinulsa. Ito ay napunta sa mga ospital at nagamit sa mga pasyente,” Baleña said.

Last August 4, Thorsson Montes Keith, PhilHealth’s former anti-fraud officer, accused PhilHealth’s top executives of pocketing the P15 billion worth of funds from the state-run insurance agency.

This led to the resignation of at least 43 of these senior officials, including Gierran’s predecessor Ricardo Morales.

Last October, NBI also charged Morales and eight other officials for malversation, and graft and corruption.

Calls for transparency

Amid the developments of the case last year, there was no update yet on where the hefty amount of alleged stolen funds went.

Skepticism and calls for transparency filled the Facebook comments section under reports about the remarks of Gierran and Baleña.

They noted that the public deserves to know the details of the liquidated money.

Facebook comment on PhilHealth claim about stolen funds retrieved on January 27, 2021
Facebook comment on PhilHealth claim about stolen funds retrieved on January 27, 2021

Some even urged Commission on Audit conduct review on the liquidation report.

Facebook comment on PhilHealth claim about stolen funds retrieved on January 27, 2021

Others quipped that the money might have been “liquidated” in PhilHealth’s own pockets.

Facebook comment on PhilHealth claim about stolen funds retrieved on January 27, 2021

Sen. Panfilo Lacson and Rep. Carlos Zarate (Bayan Muna Party-list) also questioned Gierran’s remarks.

“If public funds were spent not for Covid-19 as required under the IRM (interim reimbursement scheme), but for dialysis centers and infirmaries which are clearly not authorized, it can still be declared as liquidated, but it doesn’t mean that funds were legally disbursed,” Lacson said.

Zarate, meanwhile, echoed the call of some Filipinos for COA to conduct an auditing on PhilHealth’s report.

“A deeper investigation or audit must be conducted and those responsible be made accountable, especially since PhilHealth is again planning to hike the contribution of its members,” he said.