The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) today said recent exposés of corruption in the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth) under the Duterte regime is enraging the Filipino people amid the continues bungling of the management of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“While medical workers and the Filipino people suffer from a poorly equipped, ill-prepared and overworked health system, big bureaucrat capitalist officials in the Philhealth pocket funds that should be going to the people’s urgent medical needs,” said Marco L. Valbuena, Information Officer of the CPP.
Among the biggest sources of corruption in the Philhealth involves billions of pesos cash advances and reimbursements being released against ghost receipts prepared by syndicates inside the health insurance system. Top officials take advantage of their position to finance their high-style of living, junkets, and other extravagant expenses.
“Of course, everyone knows, these syndicates cannot operate their criminal activities without co-conspirators among the key officials of Philhealth,” said Valbuena. “People are justly indignant over how Philhealth is being bled dry by corrupt officials while people suffer from lack of funds amid the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Former anti-fraud officer Thorrson Keith said last week that Philhealth executives have pocketed P15 billion from its funds. He also exposed repeated overpricing in the purchase of IT equipment. In 2018, the Commission on Audit also exposed excessive and unauthorized expenditures by Philhealth officials. Last year, graft charges were filed against Health Sec. Francisco Duque III for renting land to Philhealth.
“Duterte is feigning ignorance about corruption in the Philhealth,” pointed Valbuena. “Duterte and the rest of his ilk know fully well that the Philhealth has long been a haven of corruption and criminal syndicates.”
“He is merely pretending to be against corruption when he promised to punish corrupt Philhealth officials, but only after widespread condemnation,” said Valbuena. “Contrary to his anti-corruption braggadocio, he is tiptoeing around Philhealth President Ricardo Morales, a former AFP general, worried that he might irk people in the military if he kicks him out. Takot si Duterte sa mga military backer ni Morales.”
“Duterte has used his power of appointment of officials to the Philhealth and other government corporations and agencies as a means of rewarding and cultivating loyalties in the military, as well as among his big business supporters,” added Valbuena.
“The Philhealth corruption furthermore exposes the systemic problem in neoliberal thrust of privatizing the health and medical insurance system, where people are shortchanged, while capitalists and bureaucrats enjoy endless streams of profits.”