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    Monday, July 3, 2017

    Senatorial campaign funded illegally? International Lawyer urges tax payers and civil groups to file a case against Risa Hontiveros

    Senator Risa Hontiveros has again become the subject of criticisms by the public. With rumors circulating over the web about her controversial approval of dispensing unwarranted bonuses from the PhilHealth fund last year, Hontiveros is ought to face a significant corruption issue.

    Paula Defensor Knack, an international lawyer, urge the public on especially the tax-paying citizens, to file a case against the so-called “PhilHealth scheme” masterminded by Hontiveros.

    Knack wrote in her Facebook post published on Monday, June 23 stating that:


    Knack, regarding herself as someone who is willing to stand and fight against this kind of injustice, attached in her Facebook post a photo containing a simple note which reads:

    “Si Hontiveros, akala natin matapang na Defender of Democracy. Eto ngayon, may tunay na DEFENSOR ng manggagawa laban sa ILLEGAL P1.76 BILLION BONUS at campaign ads…Lumabas ka PulPol!! Pauwi si Paula!”

    Meanwhile, according to an online article published in The Standard, the National Association of Lawyers for Justice and Peace (NALJP) founding chairman, Jesus Santos claimed that Hontiveros remained silent regarding the issue. Expressing that it is every Filipino’s right to be informed and made aware of such discrepancies Santos claimed that:

    “Miss Hontiveros is silent up to now about the unauthorized bonuses…The people have the right to know how she handled the issue. Did she oppose it, how? Did she return what she received?” 

    The same article by The Standard also speculated the possibility that Hontiveros might have used PhilHealth funds to support her electoral campaign last year during the 2016 elections.

    “The National Association of Lawyers for Justice and Peace again challenged senatorial candidate Risa Hontiveros to prove that the state-owned Philippine Health Insurance Corp., of which she was a director, did not spend public funds for her campaign,” claimed the article.

    Jesus Santos furthered his speculation on Hontiveros by describing as “incredible” Hontiveros’ claim that private parties paid for the commercials of PhilHealth which, despite of disallowance from the Commission on Audit, dispensed billions of pesos as bonuses to its officials.

    “The funny thing is the commercials of Miss Hontiveros started before she was named a senatorial bet of the administration. So why did it have to be her? Surely, PhilHealth has other equally talented personnel who could have done what Miss Hontiveros did,” Santos speculated.

    He also questioned that: “Were Miss Hontiveros’ commercials legal or duly authorized? And how much are we talking about?”

    It can be recalled that Senator Hontiveros, who was named PhilHealth director in 2015, had appeared in several advertising campaigns of the said insurance health company. Hontiveros justified her appearances by claiming that she was personally asked by PhilHealth to “endorse its programs”. A kind of justification which Santos won’t accept.

    In conclusion, the abovementioned article ended by revealing various unauthorized incentives PhilHealth had granted its officials which includes “subsistence and laundry allowances totaling P53.131 million; productivity incentive allowances and bonuses of P302.954 million and hazard pay of P96.157 million.”

    “Other incentives include anniversary bonus totaling P33.809 million; rice benefits of P106.069 million; educational allowances amounting to P279.045 million; a Christmas package of P242.037 million and shuttle service assistance of P132.8 million."

    PhilHealth also granted its officials “Labor Management Relation Gratuity pays totaling P155.252 million; birthday gifts of P38.306 million; medical and mission critical allowances of P21.823 million; corporate transition and achievement premium and/or grocery allowances of P118.241 million, and a handful of other financial benefits."

    Source: Paula Defensor Knack , The Standard 
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