Last February 19 (Wednesday), former presidential spokesperson Harry Roque filed a complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman against four ranking officials of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) over the alleged non-remittance of around P16.584 million in premium contributions of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
Also Read: How to Check your PhilHealth Contributions
The four Philhealth executives were accused of violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, dereliction of duty, grave misconduct, gross neglect of duty, grave abuse of discretion, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.
Philhealth Execs Face Charges Over Alleged Non-Remittance of OFW Contributions Worth Up to Php 100-M
The 19-page complaint affidavit presented by Roque along with whistle-blower Ken Sarmiento, urged the Office of the Ombudsman to investigate PhilHealth senior vice president Dennis Mas, vice president for Member Management Group Narisa Sugay, vice president for National Capital Region Gilda Salvacion Diaz and former chief operating officer Ruben John Basa, as shared in a report by the Philippine Star.
According to Roque and Sarmiento, the four PhilHealth executives must be investigated for criminal offenses in violation of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and dereliction of duty under Article 208 of the Revised Penal Code, as well as administrative offenses of grave misconduct, gross neglect of duty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.
Sarmiento was the former head of the PhilHealth Operations Office at the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration Office of Filipino Professionals (OFP), which administers the National Health Insurance Program for OFWs and their dependents.
Sarmiento reported that from 2014 to 2018, his office discovered 224 questionable PhilHealth official receipts (PORs) issued by the liaison officers of several recruitment agencies transacting with the POEA.
According to the report filed, the POEA-OFP Operations Office subjected the PORs to system verification procedures by comparing the transaction details declared on the PORs and the details of the transaction as recorded in PhilHealth’s systems and databases, wherein all 224 PORs failed the verification procedures.
For his part, Roque said that this clearly shows that the premium contributions of the OFW members, amounting to P16.584 million, were not remitted to PhilHealth.
According to Roque, it was regrettable that the four PhilHealth officials did not even order any fact-finding investigation after being informed by Sarmiento’s office of the supposed anomaly.
Furthermore, Sarmiento said he also filed 15 complaint-affidavits before the Anti-Fraud Division of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in connection with the falsified PORs, but the complaints remain pending as the investigation is allegedly being “systematically suppressed” by the high-ranking officials of PhilHealth.
After informing the PhilHealth management of the result of his investigation, Sarmiento revealed that he was demoted and then forced to resign in 2018.
On top of the 224 PORs, which underwent verification, Roque and Sarmiento shared that there was an additional 868 PORs which appear to be questionable as they do not appear in PhilHealth’s database.
After sharing this update, Roque and Sarmiento estimated the total non-remitted contributions of the OFW PhilHealth members were around P50 million to P100 million.
For his part, PhilHealth chief Ricardo Morales said he still trusts the PhilHealth officials facing graft charges before the ombudsman over the “fake” premium receipts scam.