Philippine Health Insurance Corp (PhilHealth) President and CEO Ricardo Morales on Thursday said the firm’s former anti-fraud officer, Thorrsson Keith, was in no position to expose corruption and that no pocketing of funds had occurred.

“[PhilHealth] categorically denies in strongest terms that its senior officials have “pocketed” some P15 billion as alleged by Thorrsson Keith during the Senate hearing on Aug. 4, 2020,” Morales said in a statement. 

Morales claimed that Keith was hired as a job order contractor to do staff work under the Office of the President and was in” no position to discuss office matters” in his nine months in the state insurance firm.

“His malicious claims not substantiated by evidence were obviously made to malign officers that rejected his ambitions for higher offices which he is not qualified for,” Morales said. 

In his resignation letter, Keith said PhilHealth had a “rampant unfairness” in its promotion process. He also claimed there was widespread corruption in the state corporation.

Morales explained that the “pocketed fund” mentioned by Keith was the interim reimbursement mechanism (IRM) released to 711 healthcare facilities for their Covid-19 response. 

He also denied that there was “favoritism” in the release of these funds as Keith alleged. 

“Contrary to reports that hospitals no longer need to account for these funds, the IRM is governed by government accounting and auditing rules, hence, it is subject to liquidation by its recipients…. PhilHealth regional offices have been given the flexibility in the timing of liquidations recognizing the situations in each hospital,” he added. 

Palace spokesman Harry Roque, who counseled whistleblowers of the WellMed scam that had involved PhilHealth, said on Wednesday that he believed Keith gave accurate estimates “because he’s not the only one who says that.”

Probes into the state insurance firm revealed massive overpricing in acquisitions of IT equipment. Morales, who had approved the purchases, claimed the figures shown were merely inconsistencies.

The Palace had said President Rodrigo Duterte would not fire Morales, his hand-picked PhilHealth chief, unless sufficient evidence was presented. John Ezekiel J. Hirro