Metro Manila — The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) on Saturday claimed that 98% of the ₱15 billion funds allegedly lost to corruption have been liquidated.

In a statement released on its Facebook page, the state-run insurer said that ₱14.7 billion of the controversial funds have already been liquidated, maintaining its stance that the multibillion-peso budget was not stolen by its former officials.

“Properly accounted po ito… Pinakinabangan ito ng mga pasyente at hindi ng bulsa ng sinoman,” it said.

[Translation: This is properly accounted for… This has benefitted patients and not anyone’s pockets.]

The agency stressed that the funds were released to 711 hospitals under the interim reimbursement mechanism, a system where PhilHealth provides an advanced payment for insurance claims.

PhilHealth president Dante Gierran’s stand on the liquidation issue, however, was questioned by two lawmakers in January. Sen. Panfilo Lacson said that “liquidated” funds do not necessarily mean that they were legally disbursed from the start.

“If public funds were spent not for Covid-19 as required under the IRM (interim reimbursement scheme), but for dialysis centers and infirmaries which are clearly not authorized, it can still be declared as liquidated, but it doesn’t mean that funds were legally disbursed,” Lacson previously said.

Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate said the so-called liquidation “will not just erase the fact that [the fund] was anomalous in the first place.” He also called on the Commission on Audit to conduct a special audit on the matter.

The news about the massive fraudulent scheme broke in August last year after PhilHealth’s former anti-fraud legal officer Thorrsson Montes Keith claimed that officials of the agency have stolen some ₱15 billion, covering unauthorized release of IRM, funds allocated to “fortuitous events” such as the pandemic, and “bloated” budget for IT equipment.

The government filed complaints against officials of PhilHealth, including its former chief Ricardo Morales, over the alleged anomalies.