Infernal Eternity

A few days after I wrote about the SSS and the hefty bonuses for its officers and employees (Sense and Sensitivity, the women’s organization Gabriela posted the following comment on it:

People need to be alarmed not just on SSS premiums increases. Plans to increase Philhealth premiums by 100% in January 2014 is glaring proof of how Aquino’s 2014 healthcare budget will not go straight to hospital services. The Aquino government has placed the distribution of Philhealth cards and private sector participation at the centerpiece of its healthcare program, allocating P35.3B of the total P80.8B health budget to the distribution of sponsored Philhealth cards for poor families. But what happens after the sponsorship expires? With the proposed increase in Philhealth premiums, poor Filipino families will now have to contend with the annual P2400 payment in order to avail of Philhealth benefits.

Philhealth has announced it will be implementing the new annual premium rate of P2400 from P1200 for individually paying members in January 2014. Philhealth members with an estimated monthly income of more than P25000 will have to pay P3600 annually.

As if this isn’t bad enough, just posted this story:

Philhealth defies COA, pays P1.45-B bonuses

While the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth) posted a P3.8-billion shortfall in its reserve fund requirement in 2012, its officials and employees took home various kinds of bonuses and allowances that totalled P1.448 billion.

It also gave its contractors gifts amounting to millions of pesos.

Worse, the management of the state-run health insurance corporation did these despite notices from government auditors these releases “lack of legal basis.”

“Despite issuance of notices of disallowance and denial of the consolidated appeal of (Philhealth) management by the Cluster Director, Corporate Government Sector (CGS-COA), management continuously granted the aforementioned benefits and allowances without obtaining the required approval of the Office of the President,” the Commission on Audit (COA) said.

Philhealth President and CEO Alex Padilla, ironically in an anti-fraud forum -- Photo from Philhealth website

Philhealth President and CEO Alex Padilla, ironically in an anti-fraud forum — Photo from Philhealth website

In a report released on October 10, COA said Philhealth management ignored its repeated warnings to stop paying its personnel unauthorized stipends based on mere resolutions passed by its Board of Directors.

Officials and employees receive the following “disallowed” bonuses and benefits:

  • productivity incentive allowance/bonus – P272.006 million
  • anniversary bonus – P33.4 million
  • rice benefit – P106.27 million
  • educational allowance – P278.89 million
  • Christmas package – P234.05 million
  • nominal gift – P10,000
  • shuttle service assistance – P134.53 million
  • labor management relation gratuity – P156.92 million
  • birthday gift – P39 million
  • medical and mission critical allowance – P23.33 million
  • corporate transition and achievement premium/grocery allowance – P104.4 million
  • representation expenses – P32.5 million
  • rewards and other claims – P24.74 million
  • Private contractors who dealt with PhilHealth were given the following:
  • “special events gift” – P743,500
  • project completion benefit – P1,705
  • gratuity/Christmas package – P1.46 million
  • sustenance gift/rice allowance – P788,400
  • recognition gift – P1.1 million
  • efficiency/productivity gift – P735,540
  • alleviation gift – P1.9 million
  • transportation assistance – P925,748
  • medical and mission critical allowance – P68,681

The central and regional offices of PhilHealth told auditors that they would only stop releasing questionable allowances if the COA central office denied their appeal.

“Regional management commented that they extended the benefits by order of the Philhealth Head Office…(and) that unless there is an order coming from the Commission Proper Denying their appeal, they would continue to grant the same,” auditors said.

While Philhealth personnel enjoyed huge allowances, the agency posted a P3.68-billion shortfall in “retained earnings (RE)” for 2012. It only had P115.08 billion against the reserve fund requirement of P118.76 billion.

“The viability and sustainability of the National Health Insurance Program is at risk due to the further decline in the RE balance,” COA warned.

Health cost claims in 2012 went up to P12.24 billion, while members’ premium contributions increased by only P10.57 billion.

Personnel services and maintenance and other operating expenses went up by P410 million precisely because of “the continuous granting of personnel benefits and allowances which were disallowed in audit due to lack of legal basis,” COA noted.

Last week, Phihealth president and chief executive officer Alexander Padilla announced that premium rates for members with a monthly income of P25,000 and below will go up from P1,800 to P2,400 beginning January 2014.

What on earth is going on?

Has this government lost all sense? Has all sensitivity been thrown out the window, replaced with callousness?

Is this government purposely playing with fire to hide a more nefarious agenda? Or is it just plain stupid?

Another comment in my SSS blog post, Cristy B. said: Your article has moved me to tear up (a bit). Finally, somebody has come with a well written article about how government institution like SSS has taken advantage of the powerlessness of the ordinary members who own it but whose voice are never heard always in their board room. I hope our dear P’Noy could read this and act on it. Good job. God bless.

My eyes likewise start to well up just facing all this… but they quickly dry up when I feel the heat of anger boiling inside. But no, I will not be drawn into their world.

I find comfort in knowing that they will never be able to get away with their evil deeds. Yes, even if they do get away with what they are doing now it is certain that they have a special place in hell waiting for them.

And that is for eternity.

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