President Rodrigo Duterte formed a special body to investigate allegations of misuse in state-run PhilHealth to ensure its vaibility, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, Malacanang said Friday.
PhilHealth's finances will be safeguarded, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said. Some officials will be preventively suspended, he said. A Senate hearing on alleged anomalies in the agency raised concerns that it could go bankrupt. In a letter detailing its financial troubles, The Medical City said PhilHealth had not been able to pay recently.
For COVID-19 patients, PhilHealth is among many lifelines that help cover for treatment costs.
"Nakinig po ang ating Presidente at umakto bagama't wala pa pong mapapatunayan sa mabilis na panahon, mayroon naman pong preventive suspension para mapangalagaan ang kaban ng PhilHealth (Our President is listening, even though nothing has been proven, there are preventive suspensions to safeguard the coffers of PhilHealth)," he said.
The goal is find "thieves" in PhilHealth. The task force will be composed of Department of Justice, Office of the Ombudsman, Office of the Executive Secretary, Office of the Special Assistant to the President, Civil Service Commission, Commission on Audit, and Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission.
PhilHealth's anti-fraud officer, Thorrsson Montes Keith, resigned recently and exposed alleged corruption. He said some officials pockected up to P15 billion and that the purchase of computer equipment and software was overpriced.
A retired general, Ricardo Morales, is the current PhilHealth president. He told lawmakers on Tuesday that his efforts to weed out corruption the agency was not enough.