The Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) “mafia” was able to steal about aP15 billion from the state insurer through several fraudulent schemes, a recently resigned official said during a Senate investigation on Tuesday.
Former anti-fraud legal officer Thorsson Montes Keith said the PhilHealth “mafia” has deep roots in the agency, including top officials in the executive committee.
“Naniniwala po ako base sa aking imbestigasyon na ang perang nawaldas at ninakaw ay humigit kumulang P15 billion,” Keith told Senators during the investigation.
“Ang aking natuklasan sa PhilHealth ay maitatawag po na krimen ng taon o sa English ay crime of the year,” Keith said.
According to Keith, among the fraudulent schemes being employed are the cash advances, the use of the interim reimbursement mechanism, and the continuous procurement of IT equipment the agency already has.
“Naniniwala po ako na ang dahilan kung bakit hindi natatapos ang korapsyon sa PhilHealth at naging kultura na nga po ito, ay ang pagtatalaga o paglalagay ng mga sindikato o mafia ng kanilang kasamahan, kasabwat, o kapwa sindikato sa mga matataas na posisyon at mga posisyon na nakakatulong sa kanilang iligal na operasyon,” said Keith.
Keith alleged that the “mafia” planned to recover the stolen funds from contributions of the overseas Filipino workers.
Keith said he reported such findings to the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC), the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), and the resident Commission on Audit (COA).
He also said he reported his findings to PhilHealth senior vice president Augustus De Villa, who was the one who informed the resigned officer about the supposed mafia.
In the same hearing, Keith alleged that chief executive officer Ricardo Morales tried to use him to iron out the supposed overpriced test kits for the coronavirus disease 2019.
Morales, a retired military general, dismissed Keith’s accusation of widespread corruption in PhilHealth, noting that Keith started making noise after his application for promotion was rejected as he was unqualified for the position.
Morales was also present at the same Senate hearing on Tuesday, but has yet to respond to Keith’s accusations.
Morales, however, did not deny fraud in the agency as he even said that based on a study, the corporation could have lost P10.2 billion in 2019 which could even be doubled to P18 billion by next year./Stacy Ang