By ROGER M. BALANZA
Fingers of Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) officials involved in fleecing the government insurance agency of some P15-B should be cut.
Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go on Tuesday dished out this brutal punishment for corrupt government officials at the continuing Senate hearing involving corruption in PhilHealth.
Perhaps every corrupt official caught should have a finger cut off so that this suffering of PhilHealth will end, said Go in Pilipino.
But Senate President Vicente Sotto III frowned on the idea, reminding Go that “inhumane punishments” were unconstitutional.
Go said penal laws may have to be amended to include such punishment.
The Senate is probing the alleged multi-billion peso corruption in the state-run insurance agency involving top officials including its President and CEO Ricardo Morales.
The investigation stemmed from an expose by resigned anti-fraud officer Thorrsson Keith Montes over highly overpriced purchases of information technology. Senators are also looking into PhilHealth’s Interim Reimbursement Mechanism (IRM), a multi-million-peso fund intended for the government’s battle against Covid-19 which were diverted to privates hospitals which did not have coronavirus patients.
Montes claimed corruption at PhilHealth is led by a ‘mafia’ composed of top top officials of the agency.
President Rodrigo Duterte has instructed the Department of Justice to lead a separate probe on the alleged corruption. Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra thas created a task force composed of the National Bureau of Investigation and other government agencies.
As the Senate investigation continues, six PhilHealth regional vice presidents filed leaves of absence. Several of the agency’s top officials also signed waivers to allow a probe into their bank accounts by the Anti-Money Laundering Commission (AMLAC).
Heads will roll, earlier said Go who adds that all PhilHealth executives linked to the anomaly should be suspended in order not to jeopardize the investigation.