House probe on PhilHealth scam sought
Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - August 1, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Militant lawmakers yesterday pushed for a congressional investigation on the Interim Reimbursement Mechanism (IRM) of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth), which was identified as the source of corruption in the agency.

Bayan Muna party-list Reps. Carlos Zarate, Ferdinand Gaite and Eufemia Cullamat filed Resolution No. 1074 seeking an inquiry by the House committee on government enterprises and privatization on the alleged anomalies in the release of IRM funds and other corruption cases in PhilHealth.

“In the light that the Philippines is combating the pandemic and the executive repeatedly claims that the Philippines is short of funds, it is utterly unacceptable to the Filipino people to hear from PhilHealth that it has limited available funds to
 combat the pandemic when it provided millions of pesos to unaccredited HCPs (health care providers),” they stressed.

IRM funds are given to hospitals to provide them sufficient liquidity for health crisis response, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The lawmakers made the call for investigation after resigned PhilHealth anti-fraud legal officer Thorrsson Montes Keith accused PhilHealth president and CEO Ricardo Morales of being a “coddler or may have become the new leader of syndicate in PhilHealth” for allowing the implementation of IRM.

Resident auditors of PhilHealth have also linked one of its senior executives and a “former acting president and CEO” to the anomalous release of a “cash bonanza” from a P30-billion financial package for hospitals treating COVID-19 patients.

Another controversy in the agency involved procurement of an information technology system.

The committee on public accounts chaired by Anakalusugan Rep. Michael Defensor already said it will hold a legislative investigation on the controversies.

House employees

The House has recorded two new confirmed COVID-19 cases, bringing its number of cases to 26.

House secretary general Jose Luis Montales said  the first case is an employee assigned at the Human Resources Management Service. She reported for work on July 20 and got tested on July 25 after experiencing some symptoms, adding that the employee is the aunt of another employee from the Procurement and Supply Management Service who also tested positive for SARS-CoV-2.

The second case is an employee assigned at Grounds Maintenance Group who last reported for work on July 21 and got tested on July 26 after experiencing a fever.

“Contact tracing is ongoing. These two new cases bring the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the House of Representatives to 26. Three of them passed away,” Montales bared.

Meanwhile, Montales clarified that two of the housekeeping staff members and the driver of Deputy Speaker and Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel who tested positive before the State of the Nation Address are not House employees.

He earlier announced that Pimentel tested positive for COVID-19 in a test conducted a day before President Duterte’s SONA at the Batasang Pambansa.

Montales has confirmed that Sulu District Rep. Samier Tan also tested positive for the virus.

Both lawmakers already went into quarantine.

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