Tuesday 20 November 2018
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rappler - 12 days ago

Another PhilHealth acting president accused of corruption

MANILA, Philippines – Twelve employees have accused the acting president of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) of violating the Code of Conduct of Public Officials for failing to divest from businesses that engage with the government’s health insurance program. In a 33-page complaint filed before the Office of the Ombudsman on October 31, the employees claimed PhilHealth acting president and CEO Roy Ferrer earned some P604,080 in professional fees from March 2017 to June 2018 while also receiving about P1.55 million in salaries and allowances since 2017. Ferrer became PhilHealth’s acting president in June 2018 after Rappler reported that his predecessor, Celestina Ma Jude de la Serna, spent over P600,000 in travel expenses amid the goverment health insurance company s billions in net loss in 2017. (De la Serna was eventually stripped of her post, but remained a PhilHealth board member.) Prior to that, Ferrer was appointed as a member of PhilHealth’s board of directors in February 2017.  During his stint, he was also granted by the group’s Davao regional office in May 2018 a 3-year PhilHealth accreditation as a health care professional.  Rules of the Governance Comission for Government-Owned or Controlled Corporations (GOCCs) require that directors and officers shall at all times avoid any actual or potential conflict of interest with the GOCC.” It also said officials must avoid conduct that could reasonably be construed as creating an appearance of a conflict of interest. “Dr Roy B Ferrer’s act of practicing his profession as a doctor and thereafter filing PhilHealth claims is a categorical example of supplying services to PhilHealth and therefore falls squarely under the definition of conflict of interest,” the complainants said. They added Ferrer should have divested interests from businesses engaged with PhilHealth “as a matter of duty” as soon as he was appointed a board member and later on as acting president. In a statement Thursday, November 8, Ferrer denied the allegations, saying they were fueled by “misguided retribution” due to reforms he ordered in the company. Ferrer said he had yet to a receive a copy of the complaint but that he received professional fees for a patient who was admitted two days prior to his appointment as PhilHealth acting president and CEO on June 5, 2018. He said he also received payment in September 2018 for PhilHealth claims he filed back in September 2016. Ferrer said he welcomed the probe and that he would “fully cooperate” with the investigation to prove he was innocent. “Bring it on. I have nothing to hide,” he said. Financial loss: Employees made the claims as PhilHealth said in May 2018 that it registered net losses of about P4 billion, which were noted by a Commission on Audit (COA) memorandum. “Dr Ferrer vacated his sworn oath as protector of the PhilHealth funds by not doing anything to arrest this slide. Ironically, he exacerbated the situation by illegally milking PhilHealth of its precious funds,” they said in a statement. Responding to this, Ferrer said payments recently made to partners “showed gains of as much as P500 million instead of a loss.” Documents, he said, were submitted to the COA and Bureau of Treasury for validation. The employees also accused Ferrer of violating the insurance company’s governance policies, the GOCC Governance Act of 2011, the National Health Insurance Act, and the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, among others. They demanded he be dismissed from his position and suspended while investigations were ongoing. – Rappler.com    

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