Task force starts lifestyle checks on former and current PhilHealth officials

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 15) — The multi-agency task force formed by President Rodrigo Duterte to investigate allegations of corruption in the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation has begun looking into the net worth and assets of former and current officials of the agency, the Department of Justice said Saturday.

Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete said that past and present officials whose “names have been repeatedly mentioned by witnesses and resource persons” are the subject of lifestyle checks by the Task Force PhilHealth.

The Office of the Ombudsman, which is a member of the investigating body, defines lifestyle check as a strategy to “determine the existence of ill-gotten and unexplained wealth of officials and employees of the government.”

Other members of the task force led by Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra are the Commission on Audit, the Civil Service Commission, the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission, the Office of the Special Assistant to the President, the Anti-Money Laundering Council, the National Bureau of Investigation and the National Prosecution Service.

First hearing

DOJ said that two individuals who used work for the government-managed corporation told the task force in its first hearing on Friday that officers from the central office and regional offices of PhilHealth have been conniving with health service providers as well as partner banks for years.

“The individuals (who requested anonymity) informed the Task Force of the different fraudulent schemes allegedly employed through the years by PhilHealth officers and employees … in collusion with some doctors and hospitals, and even banks which act as remittance centers,” Perete said in a statement.

The resource persons also cited the “abuses and flaws” in the agency’s legal department and information technology offices, which they believed paved the way for supposed schemes such as fraudulent claims against the corporation, malversation of premiums, and the exploitation by some unscrupulous personalities of the case rate system.

Aside from Task Force PhilHealth, both the Senate and House of Representatives are conducting their own probes into fresh allegations lodged against the health insurance company, including “widespread” corruption and “inefficiencies” which allegedly involve some of its top executives.

CNN Philippines Correspondent Anjo Alimario contributed to this report