Philippine Health Insurance Corp (PhilHealth) President Ricardo Morales and other high-ranking officials repeatedly approved the purchase of overpriced equipment and software amounting to millions of pesos, a board member of the state-run insurance firm revealed.
PhilHealth’s initial information and technology (IT) budget for 2020 was pegged at P2.1 billion, but the proposal was not passed after a review of the costs showed that multiple items were either overpriced or were redundant, said Alejandro Cabading, a certified public accountant who was part of the agency’s board of directors.
“There were numbers in the IT budget and financial reports that do not add up,” Cabading said during a Senate investigation.
Cabading said the budget proposal was questionable because several items were priced up to quadruple the amount approved by the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).
Among the items in PhilHealth’s IT budget are as follows:
- P21 million for Adobe Master Collection software (DICT-approved cost: P168,000)
- P40 million for application servers and licenses (DICT-approved cost: P25 million)
- P5 million for structured cabling (DICT-approved cost: P500,000)
- P42 million for identity management software (DICT-approved cost: P20 million)
- P21 million for office productivity software (DICT-approved cost: P5 million)
- P25 million for application servers and virtualization licenses (DICT-approved cost: P14.8 million)
The proposal also contained items like two sets of laptops, with one amounting to P4.11 million, while another was worth P115.32 million.
Another item priced at P98.07 million was only labelled as “three projects,” Cabading said.
“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 said he only approved the release of P25 million for PhilHealth’s IT needs, but Morales allegedly authorized a separate P302-million “supplemental budget” for IT-related purchases.
Months later, Morales approved another P750 million for IT expenses, Cabading said.
“There were items in the budget not approved by DICT,” he said.