Tackled at Senate hearing: Is the ‘Mindanao group’ the PhilHealth ‘mafia’?

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MANILA, Philippines — Is the so-called Mindanao group the “mafia” engaged in corrupt practices in the Phililppine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth)?

This was the question debated by Thorrson Montes Keith, who resigned as PhilHealth anti-fraud officers, and Rodolfo del Rosario, PhilHealth senior vice president, during the resumption on Tuesday of the Senate hearing into alleged corruption in the state health insurance agency.

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Sen. Risa Hontiveros mentioned to Keith the names of the Mindanao group, which was exposed by former PhilHealth President Roy Ferrer during a Senate hearing last year.

As explained in a hearing last year, this mafia — composed of eight senior PhilHealth officials — was responsible for aiding hospitals in defrauding the state health insurer of billions of pesos, as well as orchestrating the ouster of former PhilHealth presidents.

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Those who were mentioned were Johann Paolo Perez, Khaliquzzaman Macabato, William Chavez, Dennis Adre, Miriam Grace Pamonag, Masinding Alonto, Valerie Hollero and an  Jelbert Galicto.

“As of now, ma’am they don’t have the opportunity to steal,” Keith, speaking partly in Filipino, told Hontiveros.

“They don’t hold any office at the central office officer [so that they can] steal money — to personal knowledge,” he later added.

PhilHealth board member Alejandro Cabading, meanwhile, said that the names Hontiveros mentioned were the “good guys.”

Cabading said that Ferrer, a former PhilHealth president, was lying when he said the eight were part of the so-called mafia.

But Del Rosario stood by Ferrer’s claim.

“The people that were named by Doctor Ferrer, they were the ones. When we inventoried cases, there were cases pending against them. There were cases that remained unacted on for the longest time,” he said.

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“So I also conducted inventory of cases at [the] legal [department] and I saw that there were around 3,000 cases that were archived,” he added.

Hontiveros then asked the PhilHealth corporate secretary, Jonathan Mangaoang, to name the members of the mafia.

“I’d rather give the presumption of regularity on all the performances of all officers of PhilHealth.,” Mangaoang replied.

In last week’s hearing, Cabading tagged Del Rosario and Mangaoang as part of the so-called PhilHealth mafia.

/atm

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