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PhilHealth receipts report: ‘False, malicious, grossly baseless’

05:01 AM June 25, 2019

This refers to the report “Fakery of PhilHealth receipts to OFWs evades POEA scrutiny” (6/22/19).

We refute some statements in the article as false and we condemn the article’s insinuation of negligence on the part of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth)’s officers past and present as malicious.

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In a meeting last Sunday, June 16, between the Inquirer and senior vice president Dennis Mas and acting senior manager Ernie Barbados, we provided all the necessary proof that showed actions of the corporation, including its officers and staff from the regions, to act on the uncovered reports of fake receipts given by liason officers of land-based recruitment agencies to our overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) members.

Because of complaints brought to the attention of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) on fake receipts between 2015 and 2017, this agency called for “hearings” between recruitment agencies concerned and PhilHealth. They were attended by the head of PhilHealth’s POEA field office, Ken Sarmiento, and our prosecution department lawyers. Likewise, complaints and evidences have been submitted to the National Bureau of Investigation since 2015.

A meeting was also conducted some time between late 2017 and early 2018 with the Department of Labor and Employment, and including POEA officials, to discuss fake receipts and the reintegration of PhilHealth into the POEA-IT collection system. Reintegration would have allowed PhilHealth to collect directly from recruitment agencies or OFWs themselves and could lessen avenues for fraud. Mr. Sarmiento was assigned to submit updated reports so the POEA could take further action against the subject erring liaison officers of recruitment agencies.

We take notice of the report’s callous magnification of figures that we believe renders the report inaccurate and malicious. Fake receipts issued to OFWs amounted only to P1.2 million and not P17 million as carelessly peddled by the reporters as truth. To conclude that the premiums of all 7,257 OFWs were faked is grossly baseless.

Lastly, we condemn as libelous allusions that the alleged inaction on the part of senior officers was because of “promotion” and “jockeying for positions to benefit themselves.” We challenge the authors of these reports and the so-called “Eli” to show proof of their allegations against the good persons of all officers and past PhilHealth presidents mentioned.

We strongly believe that subjecting government institutions and officials to unfounded accusations in the arena of public opinion is the work of cowards. We challenge instead people, whether from our stakeholders or from our own officers and staff with sufficient proof of corruption and negligence within PhilHealth’s ranks, to openly file complaints and enable the corporation to finally cleanse its ranks.

DR. SHIRLEY B. DOMINGO
Vice President for Corporate Affairs
Philippine Health Insurance Corp.

* * *

While we respect the PhilHealth take on our two-part series on the fake receipts issued to OFWs, we would like to emphasize that prior to its publication we reached out to the state insurance firm in the spirit of fair reportage.

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One of PhilHealth’s senior officials, Dennis Mas, was provided an opportunity to answer the allegations leveled against him.

His replies, version of events, classification of what can only be considered as fake receipts and even his recommendation to prevent a repeat of such a scheme all saw print.

The purpose of the publication of this story was not to tarnish the reputation of any official. It was to shed light on an issue that our source lamented has been kept in the backburner for years, call for accountability in government transactions, and help provide justice to OFWs and their families who were deprived of social protection because of this scheme.

JOVIC YEE
Reporter

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