Liquidation does not mean funds were 'legally disbursed,' PhilHealth told
This undated file photo shows a sign board of PhilHealth in one of its offices

Liquidation does not mean funds were 'legally disbursed,' PhilHealth told

(Philstar.com) - January 27, 2021 - 8:52pm

MANILA, Philippines — A senator on Wednesday questioned PhilHealth's claim that the controversial P15 billion in funds said to have been pocketed by its officials are not missing and, in contrast, are almost entirely liquidated.

Such an assertion was made yesterday by Dante Gierran, a lawyer and a certified public accountant, who heads the state health insurer, amid public scrutiny from the corruption allegations the agency is facing from 2020 that has dragged on to this year.

But in a statement, Sen. Panfilo Lacson said that mere liquidation would not immediately mean that the air is already clear and no uncertainties would haunt it.

"If public funds were spent not for COVID-19 as required under the Interim Reimbursement Mechanism but for dialysis centers and infirmaries and which are clearly not authorized, it can still be declared as liquidated – but it does not mean funds were legally disbursed," he said.

The mounting allegations that surfaced within PhilHealth last year began from a whistleblower who alleged that members of its executive committee amassed the said amount through fraudulent schemes.

It eventually led to a shakeup in leadership within the agency, along with the officials being charged before the Ombudsman, and Gierran being given a December 2020 ultimatum to clean up PhilHealth's ranks.

The Senate, where a probe was held to look into the claims, had recommended that charges be filed too against Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, but he would be cleared by the task force formed by President Rodrigo Duterte, who had repeatedly backed his health chief amid criticism.

"That is why, as we already know, some former and current PhilHealth officials presently face charges from the DOJ-led task force," Lacson added.

In Congress, Rep. Carlos Zarate (Bayan Muna) sought for a special audit following Gierran's liquidation claim as soon as possible. 

"There was already a finding by Congress that the IRM is anomalous," he said. "This so-called liquidation will not just make it all right or erase the fact that it is anomalous or even criminal."

It is unclear if the PhilHealth chief would further elaborate his remarks, as he did not present figures in the briefing. But the agency on its social media platforms had showed a table detailing per region how much had already been released and liquidated.

In its last update on January 13, PhilHealth said 401 medical facilities are already complete in liquidation out of the 711, with 245 half in its progress and 65 below 50%.

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