PhilHealth officials face complaint over alleged inaction on anomalous OFW contributions


PHILIPPINE HEALTH Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) officials are facing a complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman for alleged inaction over anomalous transactions reported to them. The case was filed by lawyer Harry L. Roque, Jr. and Ken P. Sarmiento, a former PhilHealth employee. The complainants said the failure of the agency’s officials to “act and provide resolution to the anomalous transactions made known to them” caused P16.58 million worth of “undue injury to the government, PhilHealth and OFW (Overseas Filipino Workers)-PhilHealth members.” The respondents include former regional vice-president Dennis S. Mas; former Officer-in-Charge (OIC) for the Office of the Chief Operating Officer Ruben John A. Basa; and OIC vice-presidents Narisa J. Sugay and Gilda Salvacion A. Diaz. They are accused of dereliction of duty, grave misconduct, gross neglect of duty, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service. The complaint stems from 224 questionable PhilHealth official receipts (POR) that were discovered by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), the complainants said. PORs are used to inquire on the status of the OFW-member’s coverage. After the PORs failed the verification procedures, Mr. Sarmiento drafted 15 Affidavit Complaints and submitted these to the Anti-Fraud Division of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). “The Affidavit Complaints argued that the falsification of 224 PORs and possibly 868 other PORs were committed by a syndicate consisting of both currently-employed and then-employed Liaison Officers of Hiring Agencies. These Affidavit Complaints have remained pending without any legal disposition since their filing,” part of the complaint said. “From the foregoing, it is clear that the Respondents acted with gross inexcusable negligence when they failed to act and respond to the anomalous transactions,” the complainants said. — Genshen L. Espedido

House committee postpones constitutional amendments voting

THE HOUSE of Representatives committee on constitutional amendments has postponed the voting on the proposed amendments to the Constitution to give lawmakers more time for discussions. “So we cannot say yet when it will be voted on because of the strong discussions. Everybody wants to participate and we would like to have that full discussion,” Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus B. Rodriguez, committee chair, told reporters at the sideline of the hearing on Wednesday. Mr. Rodriguez said the panel will further study the proposals of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Federalism and Constitutional Reform (IATF) and will give “each and every member” a chance to comment. “As I see it we are still on page four, so we have about more than 20 pages… so we will keep this really full discussion of every proposal of the IATF,” he said. Among the proposals are regulations on campaign funds, restricting political dynasties, anti-turncoatism or switching political parties, election of senators by region, five-year terms for congressional representatives and local officials, and the lifting of limitations on foreign investment. The committee’s approved proposals will be included in the report to be submitted for plenary debate. Mr. Rodriguez said they aim to have another hearing next week. — Genshen L. Espedido