Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 18) – “Palakasan” does not exist in the release of funds from the interim reimbursement mechanism or cash advance payments to health facilities affected by the COVID-19 crisis, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said on Tuesday.
“On the ‘palakasan’ (patronage) system allegations on the release of MRI, we assure you there are none,” Duque, who chairs the board of directors of PhilHealth, said. Senate Committee of the Whole, which is made up of all Senators, at the third hearing into the allegations against the Crown corporation.
In previous legislative inquiries, some senators have raised the possibility of favoritism in the release of MRI funds, as they noted that some health facilities quickly got their share even if they did not cater to patients. COVID-19 while others have yet to be paid.
This issue and others raised in previous hearings, such as unfair distribution and liquidation, prompted PhilHealth to temporarily suspend implementation of its cash advance payment program. PhilHealth said last week that it will review the implementation of MRI, which may take two weeks or more.
MRI aims to help all health service providers ensure liquidity to continue operations amid fortuitous events such as the COVID-19 crisis.
Duque said: “MRI funds are not exclusive to those who care for COVID-19 patients. It is aimed at all health establishments that take care of all patients during a pandemic. “
Morales and PhilHealth SVP Limsiaco could face embezzlement charges
Senator Panfilo Lacson said at the same hearing that PhilHealth chief Ricardo Morales and senior vice president of fund management sector Renato Limsiaco Jr. could face charges of embezzlement for “embezzlement” of funds from Philhealth coffers.
Lacson said Limsiaco “lied” to senators on Aug. 11 when he claimed he was unaware of PhilHealth’s obligation to deduct 2% of withholdings from IRM funds before remitting them to health service providers.
Lawmakers showed a memorandum signed by Morales dated August 7, which states that PhilHealth remitted to the Bureau of Internal Revenue-Pasig Revenue District Office 43 taxes worth P156,738,887 allegedly from IRM funds released as of July 31, 2020 .
Lacson recalled that Limsiaco told them last week that PhilHeath was not in a position to impose taxes before providing cash advances, and that the amount they paid to the BIR came from the operating budget of PhilHealth.
For these reasons, he said, the two officials could be charged with embezzlement of public funds or property under article 217, chapter 4, book II of the revised penal code.
Lacson also noted that in the same memorandum, the regional vice presidents of PhilHealth were tasked with issuing the BIR 2307 form or credible withholding tax certificate to establishments even if they did not pay taxes. . He said these should only be given to healthcare providers, who have settled their tax obligations.
He asked: “Kung susundan natin ang argumento ni Limsiaco na wala pang buwis na nakukulekta sa mga ospital – hindi ba bukod sa pagsisinungaling, inuutusan nila ni General Morales and regional vice presidents and magcommit ng falsification of public documents?”
[Translation: If we are to follow Limsiaco’s argument that not one healthcare provider has paid withholding taxes, this means that he and Morales are instructing regional vice presidents to commit falsification of public documents.”]