Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said recently that the National Bureau of Investigation, with endorsement from the Department of Justice (DOJ), has filed before the Office of the Ombudsman a string of criminal complaints against nine former and current officials of Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) allegedly involved in the misuse of the controversial Interim Reimbursement Mechanism (IRM)
Guevarra said the complaints filed were for violation of Sections 3 (e) and 3 (i) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, malversation of public funds or property, and violations of Sections 251, 255 and 272 of the New Internal Revenue Code and Section 4 of Republic Act (RA) No. 1051 in connection with the questionable grant of advances to a number of health-care institutions in the National Capital Region (NCR) pursuant to the IRM.
In reaction to this development, a member of the House of Representatives who begged not to have his name mentioned stated that hospitals who benefited from the IRM shall likewise be investigated. It is common sense that if the funds disbursed from the IRM of PhilHealth were illegally procured funds and considered misused, the hospitals who received these funds are likewise illegally receiving these funds. And for these hospitals to disburse these illegally procured funds, the said disbursement are for sure illegal too, such that the owners or officers of these hospitals must have committed graft and corruption, the Congressman said.
From impeccable and reliable source gathered by SovereignPH from inside PhilHealth, it was revealed some hospitals may have received more funds from the IRM program in millions of pesos compared to others. One such hospital is allegedly owned by Rep. Angelina Tan of the Fourth District of Quezon Province, who happens to be the Chairman of the House Committee on Health. According to SovereignPH sources, the name of the hospital is RAKK Prophet Medical Center located in Atimonan, Quezon province. RAKK stands for Ronnel, Angelina and their two children.
As a reaction to this revelation, a lawyer of a complainant who filed graft and corruption cases in the Ombudsman against Angelina Tan’s husband, Ronnel Tan, said he will ask the DOJ Task Force to investigate Angelina Tan’s hospital, RAKK Prophet Medical Center, among others, for receiving illegal funds from the IRM Program of PhilHealth. This goes without saying that hospital owners who benefited from the illegal IRM Program are likewise involved in the anomaly.
The said lawyer further said the DOJ may have to inquire if Rep. Tan used her influence as Chairman of the House Committee on Health to be given preference to get a bigger chunk of the funds from IRM and funnel these funds to her hospital, and that her hospital got preferential treatment than the other hospitals, she, being the Chairman of the Committee on Health where PhilHealth was under investigation. And also, to get that preference, whether or not, Congressman Tan has pressured the PhilHealth officials, particularly Department of Health Secretary Franciso Duque 3rd and former PhilHealth head Ricardo Morales to provide bigger share of the funds to her hospital compared to others, the lawyer said.
Lastly, the lawyer said he will also ask DOJ to investigate if there was a conflict of interest done by Congressman Tan, and that such conflict of interest will amount to her commission of graft and corruption and violation of RA 6713.
It must be recalled that in the Senate hearing on PhilHealth anomalies, the Senators questioned the system of “advanced reimbursements” in PhilHealth. PhilHealth was easing liquidation requirements for HCI’s during the pandemic led to just P1 billion beingliquidated out of P14 billion in IRM funds released to health care institutions as of June 9.
In that hearing, Senators slammed “palakasan” or politicking in IRM releases. Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who has been leading calls in the Senate for a thorough investigation of PhilHealth, had pressed agency officials to explain the apparent favoritism in the releases of the IRM, such that even certain hospitals with hardly any coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) patients received hundreds of millions in funds very early into the pandemic.
The statement of Senator Lacson, the lawyer said, prompted him to ask DOJ if there was favoritism in the alleged grant of IRM funds in favor of Congressman Tan, and that to investigate her if she used influence as Chairman of the powerful Committee on Health of the House of Representatives to get a bigger share of the funds from the IRM.
Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri pointed out that without the usual government requirements of “pre-audits” and “post-audits” before releasing lump sums, the system became prone to corruption. “Was RAKK Medical Center able to liquidate the funds to Philhealth?” the lawyer asked.
In the hearing conducted by the House of Representatives, the diversion of funds coming from IRM to fund non-Covid-19 cases is a form of technical malversation. This was the statement of Rep. Crispin Remulla of Cavite.
“Ibig sabihin, technical malversation po ‘yan. It was meant to be for Covid patients, ibinigay ninyo sa non-Covid (It means, that is technical malversation. It was meant for Covid patients but you gave it to non-Covid). So, public fund was used for a public purpose, but not for intended purpose,” he said.
THE CASE OF RONNEL TAN
It must be recalled that in various newspaper headlines recently, it was published that Rep. Tan’s husband was sued by a councilor of Quezon Province at the Ombudsman for tossing millions of pesos in the air for his guest to pick up, a show of ostentatious display of profound wealth. Such display of wealth is a clear violation of Republic Act 6713 on Ethical Standards of Government Officials, where a public official is expected to live a simple life. The act of Ronnel Tan is outrageous.
According to the complaint, Ronnel Tan, the Department of Public Works and Highway (DPWH) regional director for Region 1 (Ilocos Region), merely a minor government official could not have accumulated such wealth that he will just throw in the air millions of pesos as a gift to his party guests. From statements of two mayors who attended the party, they said some mayors who attended the party were able to pick up between P100,000 to P200,000 from the tossed money. It was stated that the “paagaw ng pera” by Ronnel Tan is an unconscionable act of any public official.
In fact recently, President Rodrigo Duterte has strongly called the attention of DPWH personnel who are engaged in corrupt practices to resign now otherwise, if you will not, “I will throw the book at you.” The lawyer of the complainant is appealing to the President to investigate Ronnel Tan and fire him.
In the same complaint filed at the Ombudsman against Ronnel Tan, it was also noted that he and his wife owned expensive and substantial real estate and personal property, including a large and expensive house in a plush village in Quezon City and a large mansion in one of the towns of Quezon Province, as shown in this video herein below which was sent to this online news portal.
They couple also own luxurious vehicles and jewelries, the total value of these properties are clearly not in proportion to their possible income as government functionaries.
Furthermore, from reliable sources in the House of Representatives whom this online news portal was able to gather, it was revealed that Angelina Tan is the envy of many women legislators for her display of wealth, having worn expensive dresses, luxurious bags and shoes and highly precious jewelries in attending Congress’ activities. It was said that the things she wore every time she goes to the House of Representatives must be worth at least P5 million. JONATHAN ARACELI FOR SOVEREIGNPH