A presentation done by SPPH director Dr. Anabelle Labor shows the number of denied PhilHealth claims, many of which are of indigenous patients. // Image from Junta Barita live video.


Many of the claims for health benefits filed by indigenous community members before PhilHealth are being rejected because of deficient filing.

Lack of government IDs, incorrect name spellings, and the absence of registered birth and marriage certificates are some of the reasons why indigenous patients are unable to claim hospitalization benefits, according to a top provincial hospital official.

They also face difficulty with processing and correcting their needed documents due to a lack of available offices in their respective municipalities. Traveling to the city to process their documents is also too costly for them.

Dr. Anabelle Labor, director of the Southern Palawan Provincial Hospital (SPPH) in Brooke’s Point, said Tuesday during the 57th session of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan that an estimated 11.23 percent of denied hospitalization benefit claims in 2020 to the government-owned agency PhilHealth come from indigenous patients.

According to Labor, these patients sometimes write down different spellings of their names in different government documents such as valid IDs, birth and marriage certificates, and some a total lack of all mentioned documents.

“Ito ang madalas sa mga problema namin, kasi madalas sa mga IPs (indigenous peoples), marami ang hindi nare-register and mga birth certificate. Ngayon, kung mag-late registration sila, kailangang mag-issue ang Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) ng Certificate of No Registration, pero iyon ay located sa Puerto Princesa City,” said Labor. She added that this poses a bigger challenge, as they usually cannot afford travel fare to the city.

“Ang main na problema talaga nila, ang mga mali-maling mga spelling ng mga pangalan sa mga ID nila. Hirap sila paano i-register and kanilang mga birth certificate at marriage contract,” she added.

Having multiple wives, which were cited as common practices of indigenous groups by board member Fernando Zaballa during the session, were also hindrances to registering their marriage certificates to the proper authorities, according to Labor.

“Yes, [isa ring rason iyon]. Kasi, kapag may PhilHealth membership ang asawa, hindi ang patient, pero kapag walang marriage contract. Tina-try naming i-register sila sa point-of-service, iyon lang, kulang-kulang pa rin kasi ang mga documents,” she said.

Labor also raised the question of setting up document registration services in the municipalities so that indigenous patients would have better access to these services.

At the end of her presentation, Labor asked the provincial board for help to indigenous groups in dealing with government bureaucracies.

“Sa pagkuha ng birth certificate, ang main problem paano sila makakakuha ng Certificate of No Registration sa PSA, kasi nasa malayo sila. Can it be possible sa munisipyo ay makaka-issue ng ganoon? And number two, sa mga katutubo, paano sila matutulungan ng NCIP (National Commission for Indigenous Peoples) na mabigyan ng valid documents?” said Labor.


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is a senior reporter for Palawan News who covers politics, education, environment, tourism, and human interest stories. She loves watching Netflix, reading literary fiction, and listens to serial fiction podcasts. Her favorite color is blue.