Philippine Health Insurance Company (PhilHealth) president and CEO Gen. Ricardo Morales allegedly ordered a subordinate to “massage” an issue with the Philippine Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) pertaining to overpriced COVID-19 test kits.
Resigned PhilHealth anti-fraud officer Atty. Thorrsson Montes Keith on Tuesday levelled the accusation against Morales during a Senate investigation on the charges being raised against the state medical insurer.
“May pagkakataon pong inutusan ako ni Brig. Gen Morales na puntahan si (PACC)Commissioner Greco Belgica para hilutin ang kaso ng Philhealth sa overpriced testing kits,” Keith said.
“Inayawan ko po ang utos at sinabihan ko si General Morales na ‘Ano na lang ang tingin sa akin ni Commissioner Belgica kung pakikiusapan ko siya hinggil sa kaso’” he added.
Keith said Morales blushed with his reply and that the exchange was overheard by his head executive assistant Col. Etrobal Laborte who was with them.
He said he resigned from PhilHealth due to alleged “widespread corruption” divulged after the shouting match among PhilHealth board members in a virtual meeting last 23 July.
He claimed that about P15 billion had been lost because of the alleged irregularities in the agency.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon has questioned PhilHealth’s alleged overpayments on the COVID-19 testing packages during the last Senate Committee of the Whole’s hearing on the government’s overall COVID-19 response.
Drilon said that the package cost P8,150 per test which is twice the price of COVID-19 test in other hospitals and facilities.
According to the lawmaker, their research showed that the test kit from China costs P1,500 per test.
Additional overhead and cost of materials will cost approximately P2,000 plus a margin of income which is “roughly” P500, he said.
Drilon said that the “reasonable” testing cost is around P4,000 pesos. The said amount was the same value charged by the Philippine Red Cross for their testing.
PACC launched a probe to look into Drilon’s claims.
In his opening statement during the Senate probe, Keith maintained that the apparent cycle of corruption is still due to the mafia that operates inside the PhilHealth.
“Sa aking pahayag, naniniwala po ako na balak ng sindikato o mafia ng PhilHealth na pagkukunan ng ipantatapal ng mga nawaldas o ninakaw nilang pera ay sa mga overseas Filipino workers,” Keith said.