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Charges filed vs PhilHealth officials over fake receipts

Former presidential spokesperson Harry Roque and former Philippine Overseas Employment Administration employee and whistleblower Ken Sarmiento yesterday filed charges before the Ombudsman against four officials of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. over the issuance of over 200 fake premium receipts to overseas Filipino workers.

The complaint was filed against PhilHealth Senior Vice President Dennis Mas, Executive Vice President Ruben John Basa, Vice President for Member Management Group Narisa Sugay, and Vice President for National Capital Region Gilda Salvacion Diaz.

The respondents were accused of violating Section 3(e) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, dereliction of duty, grave misconduct, gross neglect of duty, grave abuse of discretion, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of service.

Sarmiento, deployed at the PhilHealth operations office at the POEA, was tasked to administer the National Health Insurance Program for OFWs and their dependents.

But from 2015 to 2018, he discovered 224 questionable PhilHealth official receipts that were issued by liaison officers of several hiring agencies transacting at the POEA Blas Ople Building in Mandaluyong City amounting to P100 million.

Sarmiento conducted his own investigation but was eased out of office until he was forced to resign in 2018.

In their complaint, Roque and Sarmiento said that the respondents failed to act on the anomalous transactions even though they were aware of its existence.

“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 presented by respondent Sarmiento,” they said. (Czarina Nicole Ong)