PhilHealth CEO Morales denies P15-B fraud by its executives

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PhilHealth President and CEO Ricardo Morales on Thursday denied accusations that its senior officials have pocketed some ₱15 billion from the state insurance firm.

He released a statement denying “in strongest terms” that its senior officials have stolen such an amount from the agency, as claimed by resigned anti-fraud legal officer Thorrsson Keith during Tuesday’s Senate hearing.

Morales said that the “whistleblower” Keith was only hired as a job order contractor to do staff work under the Office of the President, thus, he “is in no position to discuss office matters” with only a nine-month stay within PhilHealth.

“His malicious claims not substantiated by evidence were obviously made to malign officers that rejected his ambitions for higher offices which he is not qualified for,” the PhilHealth chief said.

Morales made the same defense during the congressional deliberations, adding that Keith was being vengeful because of a rejected promotion.

During the hearing by the Senate Committee of the Whole, Keith revealed that the ₱15 billion covers the unauthorized release of interim reimbursement mechanisms or IRM, funds allocated for “fortuitous events” such as the pandemic, to hospitals with no recorded COVID-19 cases.

The amount also includes the alleged “bloated” budget for IT equipment, which Morales had supposedly endorsed multiple times — a claim which the PhilHealth chief dismissed as mere “inconsistencies” in figures.

Morales also denied that there was “favoritism” in the release of IRM funds among hospitals, and said that PhilHealth regional offices have been given flexibility in the timing of liquidations.

“Contrary to reports that hospitals no longer need to account for these funds, the IRM is governed by government accounting and auditing rules, hence, it is subject to liquidation by its recipients,” he added.

The House Committee on Public Accounts also covered similar controversies hounding the PhilHealth in a separate probe on Wednesday.

Morales had earlier appealed to lawmakers to give them support and compassion, while they try to address fraud allegations and other corrupt schemes involving the agency’s officials.

“Sana ho, tulungan natin ang PhilHealth, tulungan. ‘Wag pagtulungan,” he said.

[I hope you help PhilHealth, help us. Do not gang up on us.]