CHR demands transparency from PhilHealth amid corruption allegations
This undated photo shows members lining up for PhilHealth benefits at an unnamed hospital.
The STAR/File
CHR demands transparency from PhilHealth amid corruption allegations
Bella Perez-Rubio ( - August 13, 2020 - 5:43pm

MANILA, Philippines — As allegations of corruption and mismanagement continue to unfurl against Philippine Health Insurance Corp., which is now the subject of numerous investigations, the Commission on Human Rights this week urged the state-run insurer to be candid with the public amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"[We] demand transparency and assurance that public funds entrusted to the corporation are properly disbursed and accounted for," CHR Spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said.

"In the health sector and in other segments of bureaucracy, corruption does not only affect the right of everyone to the highest attainable standard, but it also damages the legitimacy of leaders to a loss of public support and trust for state and government institutions."

Last week, former Philippine Health Insurance Corp. anti-fraud legal officer Thorrsson Keith alleged that executives of the state firm have stolen P15 billion from its funds.

"What we found at PhilHealth is the crime of the year due to the syndication of the distribution of cash advance, the interim reimbursement mechanism, and the repeated overpricing of purchased IT equipment," Keith told the Senate in Filipino.

As senators resumed their probe on Tuesday, the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission warned that funds released by PhilHealth which can go as high as P3 billion per week are susceptible to fraud.

"Two to three billion pesos is released by PhilHealth each week and all this is exposed to corruption. And now, while we are at this hearing, the theft and pay-offs continues among those who steal because the system has not been changed," PACC Commissioner Greco Belgica told the Senate in Filipino.

"Ang issue ng PhilHealth, grabe po ito. Grabe ang nakawan, grabe ang kakapalan, at grabe ang kawalang-hiyaan. (The issue of PhilHealth is extreme. The stealing is extreme and the shamelessness is extreme)," he added.

"These alleged irregularities undermine the State’s human rights commitment to maximize available resources for the progressive realization of rights, as recognized in Article 2 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights," De Guia said.

"In the midst of a national health emergency, [CHR] strongly underscores the duty of the state to protect and fulfill its human right obligations, and to deliver relevant services including a functioning judiciary law enforcement, health, and other basic social services."

These allegations of corruption against officials of the state-run health insurer are unfolding as the country faces a crisis of epic proportions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic

Monday saw another record-breaking high of almost 7,000 new infections among Filipinos, while over 4,000 new cases logged on Thursday upped the national caseload to 147, 526.

At the urging of medical frontliners who said they were increasingly overwhelmed by the surge in COVID-19 cases, President Rodrigo Duterte reverted Metro Manila and nearby provinces to a stricter modified enhanced community quarantine until at least August 18.

Thursday marks the 149th day that the country has been under community quarantine — the longest in the world.

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