PhilHealth denies cover-up in Ilocos office

BAGUIO CITY — The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) denied that a cover-up is on the way to disrupt the ongoing Congressional probe on alleged corruption inside the agency.

PhilHealth officials dismissed allegations that the massive leak in its Ilocos regional office, which allegedly destroyed critical files, was intentional. Last week, the senate members urged the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to investigate the matter.

“Pinapabulaanan po naming ang balita na ang [Information Technology] at Accounting Sections na nasa ground floor ang naapektuhan sa pagtulo ng tubig ulan sa loob ng aming opisina noong nakaraang Miyerkules, August 19, 2020 kundi ang mezzanine ng aming tanggapan,” said Ilocos Regional Vice President Alberto Manduriao in statement.

According to him, the video showing documents and equipment getting soaked from the leak was at the Benefits Administration Section. He said that since they store the information digitally, they are secured in the data centers maintained by the central office. The PhilHealth regional office is in Dagupan City, Pangasinan.

“Kami po ay kasalukuyan din nagsasagawa ng parallel investigation sapagkat hangad din naming ang katotoohanan na makakapagbigay linaw sa pangyayaring ito,” Manduriao added.

The Department of Justice confirmed that the NBI is investigating if the incident was intentional. According to the department, the inter-agency task force they lead to investigate the alleged irregularities will conduct hearings in the following days. The bureau has stationed officers and agents at the concerned office to coordinate and assist in securing possible pieces of evidence.

Meanwhile, PhilHealth OIC-President and Chief Executive Officer Arnel De Jesus, in a separate statement, assured the public that the incident at the regional office is not a cover-up.

“As to the presence of NBI agents in the head office, the Agency fully understand their concern to protect essential documents needed by the Task Force PhilHealth in their investigation,” he said.

The PhilHealth acting chief also guaranteed that all documents needed for the investigation are intact and available to the investigating authorities.

Besides the Senate and DOJ-led inter-agency probes, the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission is also investigating PhilHealth.

The state health insurer is involved in new charges of corruption. The allegations came from a former member of the board and an anti-fraud officer. According to the whistleblowers, a “mafia” exists inside the agency that has been pocketing funds for years.