NBI files raps vs PhilHealth officers before Ombudsman office

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
NBI files raps vs PhilHealth officers before Ombudsman office
This photo taken October 2, 2020 shows the voluminous documents connected to the National Bureau of Investigation's complaint filed before the Office of Ombudsman against PhilHealth officers.
JUCRA pool photo

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 7:32 p.m.) — The National Bureau of Investigation on Friday filed criminal complaints against officers of the Philippine Health Insurance (PhilHealth) Corp. before the Office of the Ombudsman.

According to the transmittal letter of the Department of Justice, signed by Undersecretary Adrian Sugay, the complaint involves “questionable grant of advances to a number of health care institutions” in Metro Manila.

This was done under the Interim Reimbursement Program, under PhilHealth Circular No. 2020-0007. The IRM is a mechanism under the National Health Insurance Program that grants financial aid to healthcare providers affected by calamities.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Friday night confirmed the NBI complaint filed before the ombudsman.

"The NBI, with the endorsement of the DOJ, filed with the OMB this afternoon a complaint for violation of Sections 3(e) and 3(i) of the anti-graft and corrupt practices act, malversation of public funds or property, violation of Sections 251, 255 and 272 of the NIRC, and Sections 4 of RA 1051 in connection with the questionable grant of advances to a number of health care institutions in the NCR pursuant to the interim reimbursement mechanism (IRM)," Guevarra said in a statement.

Below are the respondents:

  • Ex-PhilHealth President and CEO Ricardo Morales
  • Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Arnel De Jesus
  • Senior Vice President Renato Limsiaco Jr.
  • Senior Vice President Israel Francis Pargas
  • Gregorio Rulloda
  • Imelda Trinidad de Vera
  • Lolita Tuliao
  • Gemma Sibucao
  • Lailani Padua

"More complaints will be filed in the next few days/weeks against erring philhealth personnel and their cohorts," Guevarra added.

Task Force PhilHealth report

In a public address on September 14, President Rodrigo Duterte read part of Task Force PhilHeath’s report that recommended filing of complaints against PhilHealth officers.

The DOJ previously noted: “On 30 January 2020, the Board issued a Circular that, among others, made the IRM a ‘special privilege’ (or a special process that deviates from the normal procedures adopted by the corporation) to be made available every time a fortuitous event would arise.

This was the statement DOJ issued upon the submission of the Task Force PhilHealth’s report to Duterte.

It added that investigators flagged that PhilHealth’s executive committee and board rushed the fund releases under the mechanism, even when the circular was yet to take effect. There were also no sufficient standards and guidelines on its implementation and no mechanisms to monitor fund utilization and liquidation, and without taxes due thereon.

“The Task Force found negligence on the part of the Executive Committee and Board in the implementation of the IRM,” DOJ then said.

PhilHealth CEO and President Dante Gierran has sought the courtesy resignation of senior officers at the state insurer as he works on re-organizing the agency that is hounded by corruption woes.

The DOJ earlier said that more complaints will be filed against PhilHealth officers after its composite teams conducting deeper probes into the state insurer finishes their investigation. — with report from News5/Marlene Alcaide

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