August 13, 2020

NASSA/Caritas Philippines, the social action arm of the Catholic Church, calls for justice and accountability in the public health sector following allegations of top-level corruption at the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation.

According to Caritas Philippines National Director, Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo, “we are in solidarity with all the sectors calling for the suspension of these officials to give way to an independent investigation of the graft allegations.”

Several weeks ago, PhilHealth anti-fraud legal officer resigned and accused agency officials of some P15 billion fraudulent schemes which include alleged overpricing of information and communications technology equipment, and the purported padding of hospitals’ PhilHealth claims, involving PhilHealth president CEO Ricardo Morales among others.

“We don’t need our health officials messing around when we are facing a global health pandemic. Our government, while presenting solutions like the creation of Task Force PhilHealth, must have more stringent measures to detect corruption before events like this escalate and pose bigger threats to public health delivery.,” adds Bishop Bagaforo.

It must be remembered that last year, the National Bureau of Investigation has filed anti-graft complaints before the Department of Justice against 21 PhilHealth officials and employees in connection with alleged ghost dialysis treatments.

“The public cannot always be at the receiving end of corruption in the government. While we laud efforts to mainstream professionalism and integrity in government service like the programs implemented by the Civil Service Commission, it is utterly devastating that cases of this scale and magnitude can prevail in public offices where accountability should have been the primary measure of moral aptitude,” laments the prelate of Kidapawan.

Thus the head of the social action arm of the Philippine Catholic Church is convinced to “call on Task Force PhilHealth to uncover the truth, serve justice and let everyone involved be accountable.”

“This also is true with DOH Sec. Francisco Duque III. The public health crisis due to COVID-19 has escalated in ways that could have been mitigated had we acted with enough foresight and unbiased judgements. Now we are not only cramming to prevent a virus from spreading full blown. We also needed to triple our efforts to address social injustice,” adds Bishop Bagaforo.

The Catholic Church, together with other faith-based organizations in the country has helped more than 5 million most impoverished Filipinos during the pandemic through provision of food and non-food items, dignity kits, PPEs and hospital equipment, and cash assistance. Most dioceses, religious congregations and seminaries have also transformed their facilities to house medical frontliners, homeless families and as quarantine facilities.