Basa: PhilHealth fund depleted due to Garin, Padilla's funneling of P10.6B to DOH

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 29) — The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) is in bad financial shape because P10.6 billion of its fund was funneled to the Department of Health in 2015, Philhealth Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Ruben Basa revealed on Tuesday.

"(The) management found that there was no valid waiver by PhilHealth of the P10.6 billion senior citizens fund. The matter was not presented (to) nor approved by the PhilHealth Board of Directors," Basa told legislators during the joint oversight hearing on the state of PhilHealth's finances.

Basa said former Health Secretary Janette Garin and former PhilHealth Chairman Alex Padilla wrote the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) in 2015 to ask for the release of the P10.6 billion-fund to the Health Department to augment its health facilities enhancement program. Even without the board's approval, they used the money to finance the construction of barangay health clinics, Basa said.

He added that the transfer of funds affected the projected longevity of Philhealth's funds since its coffers may run dry by 2022 unless steps are taken to replenish it.

"Nakabawas siya sa sustainability ng programa, nakabawas siya sa reserve funds kaya ngayon kumain na 'yung binayaran natin noong 2015 sa reserve funds [It affected the program's sustainability because the reserve funds were used to release premiums for senior citizens in 2015]," he said.

Basa said that DBM informed them a year after that PhilHealth's funds have been depleted.

Reached for comment, Garin belied Basa's claims, saying these were "not recognized by DBM."

"Why spend for unrealized income? Culprits of fraud, are looking for a scapegoat on the real reasons behind their disastrous financial situation," Garin said.

She also said that "many of the resource persons being utilized (in the joint hearing) are compromised. Garin also called for an external and credible audit.

CNN Philippines is still trying to get the side of Padilla.