IT was in 2013 when I first started to expose some of the irregularities and anomalies of this state run government agency, PhilHealth, which is reeking with corruption. The top official I exposed in my story published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, only got transferred to another region. The story is still archived in the PDI news portal, which you, dear readers, can google.
Now fast forward to this year, 2020,
On August 8, the Senate conducted an investigation, following an audacious whistle blower’s exposure of the many well entrenched corruption by a mafia-like group operating inside the agency, siphoning undetermined huge amounts of public funds over the years. I once helped four disgruntled employees of the PhilHealth in southern Mindanao in reporting these irregularities, including falsification of the academic credentials of a top PhilHealth director,
We went out of the way to even acquire the official confirmation from the state university which the director claimed he is a graduate of, which turned out not to be true. The university executive issued an official reply that the director was never an alumnae of their university. Despite the report coming from the media on the irregularities of the agency, the top official was only transferred to another assignment.
On Tuesday, apparently under pressure from the Senate inquiry, PhilHealth president Ricardo Morales finally made mention of the top two officials in his agency that were involved in rampant corruption. He named Masiding Alonto and Dennis Andre, PhilHealth Davao Region vice president, who were involved in various corrupt practices and dipped their hands in billions worth of public funds.
Now that the beleaguered state agency has been under intense scrutiny by the Senate and followed closely by the media and the public at large. The question begging to be answered is: What is the next bold step to undertake? For once, I agree with Senate President Vicente Sotto to axe all the corrupt officials. I hope the corrupt officials in the agency will get what is due them.
Dear Senators who are reading this, take a hard look at the story written in 2013. This is backed by solid facts, which I diligently and exhaustively gathered as a crusading journalist. If I may add, the Senate should also file appropriate charges against them, too. In the many years they had enriched themselves like leeches that refuse to let go. They have amassed untold wealth, funds that could have benefited many sick filipinos. This culture of corruption in our country must stop. In other countries like Japan, any whiff of embarrassment that causes officials to lose dignity or pride would remedy it by stepping down from their office to save face or redeem their honor. There ought to be a lesson learned from this.
I take pride in former PhilHealth executives Atty Jo Puzon, Florence Mananes, Lady Bee Go and Bernadith Ipanag, who were all arbitrarily terminated from their post in the PhilHealth under Andre for filing proper charges against him for various anomalies. These brave women were the first whistleblowers in their former agency. Their stories became the basis for the series of stories I have written. so kudos to their bravery and integrity.
I have witnessed their pain and the struggle they went through when they were unjustly fired and were hurled with false accusations. I thank them too for entrusting me to tell their stories. They have since moved on to another career path and are now successful career women who held their heads up with integrity intact. Something that they can proudly tell their children and grandchildren of the fight they courageously stood for.