“PhilHealth corruption scandal, proof that corruption continues further under the Duterte Administration” —Youth Party

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Kabataan Partylist strongly condemns the continuous corruption under the Duterte Administration. The widespread corruption in the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), with officials of the government-owned health insurance firm embezzling fifteen-billion pesos (P15,000,000,000.00) from the agency, is a proof that contrary to what President Duterte has been saying, corruption is still ongoing right under his nose.

Allegations of this PhilHealth “mafia” only worsened, with former general and current PhilHealth President and CEO Ricardo Morales, who was personally appointed by President Duterte last year, after the series of investigations leading to the discovery of massive fraud and scams in the previous PhilHealth leadership. These anomalies seem to have only continued and intensified under Morales leadership. His promise to fix the organization of PhilHealth and eliminate the systemic corruption in the health insurance agency has seemed to be broken.

Even worse, this embezzling of the P15-Billion has come at one of the worst times possible, with our country facing the COVID-19 pandemic. This goes to show the militarizing the government bureaucracy, as well as government-owned and controlled corporations, would only breed injustice and corruption.

Case in point, the proposed 2020 budget of PhilHealth’s ICT sector was bloated by at least P734-million. These overcharged and overpriced funds could have instead been used immediately to address the COVID-19 pandemic. Think of all the face masks, face shields, and testing kits that could have been provided with that amount of money.

Much worse, these corrupt practices would further hurt PhilHealth more. Indeed, a projected collapse of reserves in over P147-billion would be lost due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. And with the PhilHealth “mafia” already stealing P15-billion of funds through their nefarious schemes, our already dilapidated health sector is set to burn below the ground even more.

The P15-billion, which was accumulated from our people’s taxes, has only gone into the wrong hands. P15-billion would have helped address the various issues the people have faced especially under the pandemic, with calls for social amelioration and aid continue to pile up.

In fact, if used right, the P15-Billion embezzled funds could have been even used to provide better health and socio-economic services to the people, such as:

· 375 million face shields (P40 per face shield)

· 3 billion surgical face masks (P5 per face mask)

· 1 million Laptops for students and teachers (P15,000 per laptop)

· P10,000 per month each as an aid for over 1.5 million individuals in the working-class

· 11 million UP Test Kits (P1,320 per test kit)

· 18 Million PPEs for our health workers (P800 per PPE)

· P5,000 per month each as an aid for over 1.8 million poor families

· 7,500 new classrooms (P2-million per classroom)

· 375,000 student beneficiaries of Tertiary Education Subsidy (P40,000 per student)

If this government is requiring us to stay at home, wear face masks and face shields, then we require this government for an improved strategic and comprehensive health-based and pro-people pandemic response to address the widespread of COVID-19 pandemic.

The youth demands that the PhilHealth officials provide us answers against these allegations, moreso step down from their posts if there are still delicadeza left in them. Millions of our citizens pay monthly contributions to PhilHealth. It is not acceptable that these contributions have all gone to the corrupt hands of a few. If COVID-19 is not going to kill us, then this government’s corrupt practices will.

We are long been calling for the PhilHealth contribution and budget to be directed to the hospitals to prevent these kinds of corruption. We call for this Administration to immediately address the concerns of the people brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. We call for improvements for a pro-people and pro-poor healthcare system through increased funding for our public hospitals which would address the needs especially of poor COVID-19 patients and hard-stricken COVID-19 communities.###

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