Still no whiff of corruption?

THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez (The Freeman) - August 7, 2020 - 12:00am

The Senate hearing on the alleged widespread corruption in PhilHealth has begun. And on the first day, my blood practically boiled. Who would not be enraged by the revelation that PhilHealth has 5,000 members who are 130 years old and they cannot ascertain if they are indeed alive? Is this the kind of leadership we are to expect from no less than PhilHealth President Ricardo Morales? If members are found to be a hundred years or older, why not verify? How difficult is it to go to a member's residence and confirm if he is still alive? Morales claims they did not have any documents stating the member was dead. So they assume he is still alive? What kind of answer is that? If no documents are available, will they just let the member keep on growing old for up to 200 years before they start wondering? Unbelievable.

Then Morales justifies the need for an IT System Development Program worth P2.1 billion to ensure the identity of the member through biometrics. But even the solution is fraught with overpricing flagged by COA. Senator Lacson could not believe the prices of the IT System. An item with a P62,424 was priced at P320,000. Is that how stupid these officials think Filipinos are?

The issue of favored hospitals was also presented where PhilHealth quickly settled claims even if they did not qualify. There is a fund allocated for hospitals with many COVID-19 cases but some hospitals who submitted claims only had as few as a single COVID-19 case. Even dialysis patients not covered by the said fund were able to claim, sometimes even before undergoing dialysis.

How can PhilHealth survive when there seem to be different camps involved in corruption? A whistleblower claims a mafia-like syndicate thrives within the agency. Some officials have stated that PhilHealth may not last by 2022 if the current pandemic continues. Why blame the pandemic when there are so many issues of corruption in the first place? Around P15 billion was supposedly lost to corruption. And I thought PhilHealth would purge itself after the "ghost dialysis scam" was exposed last year. Yet nothing. I thought a former military man would clean up the agency. He hasn't. A deluge of accusations of corruption and irregularities from the COA, PACC, former officials now drench PhilHealth officials. The PACC recommends charges against 36 officials. Will it happen? What has happened to those involved in the "ghost dialysis scam" last year? A call for those who have information on the current issues hounding PhilHealth is being made to strengthen the evidence against erring officials and whatever syndicate operates within the agency. And yet President Duterte still seems to have confidence in DOH Sec. Duque and PhilHealth President Morales. Obviously, he still does not see a "whiff of corruption". So much for that.

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