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PhilHealth Probed for Alleged Fraud as it Faces Pandemic

Two sets of laptops were reportedly priced at P119.43 million.
by John Paulo Aguilera
Aug 4, 2020
Photo/s: Olena Sergienko via Unsplash

A former board member of state-run PhilHealth on Tuesday alleged in a Senate hearing that computer hardware and software were overpriced, putting the agency on the spotlight at a time when it is battling the COVID-19 pandemic.

Former board member Alejandro Cabading claimed that PhilHealth's higher-ups, including President and CEO Ricardo Morales, authorized the procurement of the equipment. "There were numbers in the (information technology) budget and financial reports that do not add up... I tried to find a solution by raising this with management, but the most frustrating part is it seems that management seems to be tolerating this act," he said.

Cabading described PhilHealth's proposed IT budget "anomalous," after some of the items were found to cost multiple times the Department of Information and Communications Technology's (DICT) quotation.

For instance, Adobe Master Collection software was priced at P21 million compared to the DICT-approved P168,000, while structured cabling cost P5 million from P500,000. Two sets of laptops were even said to be worth a total of P119.43 million.

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Morales said there were "major discrepancies" in the financial report.  He told senators: "I have maintained from day one of my tenure that the main solution to this systematic fraud problem lies in our robust, integrated, and harmonized information management system running a clean, complete, and updated membership database."

"Only such a system can keep track of the 109 million members, the 40,000 accredited healthcare professionals, 8,500 facilities filing 35,000 a day, and paying P2 billion a week."

Morales said PhilHealth "potentially lost" P10.2 million to fraud last year, referring to a study that pointed out the company's 7.5 percent fraudulent case index rate, compared to the 10 to 20 percent global average.

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